Friday, May 29, 2015

Book Review - Playing a Part, by Daria Wilke

Quick quick Friday post, lifted from my Facebook page with a couple of edits.

I don't do a lot of book reviews, and don't know how many of the folks who visit here enjoy YA fiction, but I recently picked up Playing a Part, by Daria Wilke, translated by Marian Schwartz, out of the giveaway bin here at work and really enjoyed it. It's a sort of a quirky little book that travels in territory far from the hot YA trends (vampires, werewolves and dystopian futures, oh my
) and so maybe hasn't really found it's audience. I ran into the publisher on the elevator while I was reading it (it's an Arthur A. Levine Press book and we're on the same floor here at Scholastic) and told him how much I was enjoying it - he said to tell my friends, so here you go!  

The main character is a young man by the name of Grisha who is dealing with growing up gay in Russia. Russia is of course an awful place to be gay, and that's source of some of the conflicts that drive the story, but there's also nepotism and ageism and maybe a few other isms too. Funny thing is that one of the frequent "criticisms" on Goodreads is that the story doesn't focus enough on Grisha, but I actually really liked the way his connections and relationships with people of other generations were given such weight, rather than the adults just being bit players in the lives of the young people in the story. 

What really gave this story an intereresting and unusual feel is that Grisha's parents are actors at a puppet theatre and that's where he's grown up and feels the safest. The descriptions of the theater, the puppets, performers and performing, puppet makers and puppet making are just luscious.

It's a quick read, but a satisfying one.

Click here for the Goodreads page.


Anonymous said...

I just finished this book and i have to say that I LOVE it! I can relate to Grisha on so many levels. Having grown up gay in a small, southern Alabamian, near conservative town, I understand the constant struggle and worry in day-to-day life. Having a crush like he did; having the strength that he found; finding a safe haven when no one understood him... It really touched home for me! I really enjoyed this novel. Thank you for giving this to the world! I'm sure many, many others like myself will find themselves in the pages of this book looking at the world as Grisha does and see themselves as if it were their own story!

bonnie said...

Thank you SO much! This post was a bit outside of my usual topics but I absolutely loved the book, thought it told a powerful story, and just had to share it.

Avery Fischer Udagawa said...

I too relished this book! Fans can read here about how the US editor learned of Playing a Part in The Atlantic and commissioned the translation:

Here's more on the background of the book, including link to The Atlantic:

bonnie said...

Oh, how cool, I work three cubicles down from Emily, she's lovely!

Thank you so much for both of these links. I'm not sure how you stumbled across this post but I'm delighted that you did!