The Turning by Glora Whelan
Tanya is a Russian ballerina. She has worked very hard to get to where she is. Her family is poor, even though her father is a doctor. They live in a small apartment and share a bathroom with several other families, but at least Tanya can dance. There’s also Sasha, whom she loves. He’s an artist who works himself all the time trying to provide for her grandmother.
Times are unsure in Russia. Some people want democracy. Others want something else. There’s an election coming up and there are political protests all the time, which Tanya’s grandfather is a part of.
Tanya worries that she will not be chosen to go to Paris to perform because of her affiliation with her grandfather.
Tanya had planned on leaving Russia and going to Paris. She doesn’t want to stay in a country where she seemingly has to little personal freedom. She knows that if she leaves Russia she can send money back to her family. Things happen though and Tanya becomes conflicted about her choice to leave Russia.
What I liked
I haven’t read a lot of books about Russia. This one was set in a rather interesting era of Russia’s history, that I honestly didn’t know a lot about. It’s in the not-too-distant past. There were surely Russians who wanted things to change. Tanya is fictional, but she is a fiction of someone who very well might have been real. Maybe there was actually a talented ballet dancer who was thinking about leaving Russia for elsewhere, but then found things about her country to fight for.
Tanya also learned that family is important. Sometimes you have an opportunity to make yourself better in some way, but you have to forego that opportunity because of your family. You know you’ll leave them behind and they may fare worse than they did, if you took that opportunity. This is all part of the sacrifice of being an adult.
What I didn’t like
Sometimes I feel as if you have to make that selfish choice. I think sometimes we just have to make the choice that is best for us. That choice may in fact cause our family suffering in some way, but sometimes I think you should just do it. I don’t think I could have made the choice the stay in Russia had I been in Tanya’s situation. I don’t want to be restricted and hampered. I don’t want to share a bathroom with several other families. I want my own darn bathroom and if that means leaving the country to get it, I might just do it.
If all of a sudden the United States became this total fascist place, you know where I would be? Not here. I would sneak my butt across a border under the cover of trees, living off of roots and berries and sticks, and get out of the country. Granted, Tanya’s Russia wasn’t that bad. It may not have been pleasant, but it wasn’t totally awful.
I feel like Tanya could have made herself a much better life by leaving Russia, but ultimately, it was her choice and she chose to stay with her family.
Let’s all go to the ballet.
Would you leave Russia?
If your country became terrible, would you leave?