The Light of Seven Days by River Adams
Living with her Babby after her parents’ death, 10-year-old Dinah Ash is invited to train at Leningrad’s legendary Vaganova Ballet School. In the world of elite dance, she works hard, falls in love, and weathers the Soviet Union’s ubiquitous antisemitism, but despite an impressive talent, she quickly learns that dancers of her “profile” don’t make prima ballerinas.
Love of Leningrad, ballet, friends, family, and books sustain Dinah until history intervenes. The Soviet war in Afghanistan, the rise of perestroika, and a re-emergence of Nazism leave her vulnerable and exposed. Realizing escape is her only option, she applies for refugee status in America.
Dinah’s adjustment to life in the US is a test as much of her identity as of her perseverance. Is who she is something Dinah can forge on her own? Or is identity imposed by upbringing, public opinion, and the myths of our cultures? As Dinah struggles with the questions of religion, race, and worth, her choices and the people she encounters will determine whether the dream of a better life can survive the weight of the past.
Year first published: 2023