Publisher: Bloomsbury USA
Publication Date: March 30, 2010 (Paperback)
Of Note: YA Historical Fiction Challenge Book #2
With her mother ill, it's up to fifteen-year-old Ruby Jacinski to support her family. But in the 1940s, the only opportunities open to a Polish-American girl from Chicago's poor Yards is a job in one of the meat-packing plants. Through a chance meeting with a local tough, Ruby lands a job as a taxi dancer—a girl paid ten cents to dance with any man—and soon becomes an expert in the art of "fishing" as she works her patrons for meals, clothes, even jewelry.
Drawn ever deeper into the world of dance halls, jazz, and the mob, Ruby gradually realizes that the only one who can save her is herself.
I have to admit this book was slightly different than I'd imagined. This isn't a bad thing, as I was pleasantly surprised to find Ruby a no-nonsense smart-mouthed heroine. She can be a little grating at times, but I'd take a strong willed heroine over a damsel in distress any day.
Ruby's life isn't easy, and when she lands a job as a "taxi dancer", her income increases, but her problems don't necessarily go away. She's trying to do the right thing and provide for her family, but she finds out that dancing has its' own perils, the most important being her reputation.
This book was beautifully researched (I always get at thrill when I find a bibliography in the back of a historical fiction novel) and you really feel like you're living in the 1940's along with Ruby. You're there with her when the attack of Pearl Harbor happens, and how it affects not only her, but everyone else.
My only real complaint (other than Ruby's occasional abrasive behavior) was that the ending went on a bit too long for my tastes.
Overall, I really enjoyed Ten Cents a Dance and would recommend to any fan of historical fiction, but especially to those who enjoy the 1940's time period as I do.