Chicago, 1941. When her mother becomes too ill to work, fifteen-year-old Ruby Jacinski is forced to drop out of school to support her family. But her dull factory job makes life feel like one long dead end, until she meets neighborhood bad boy Paulie Suelze. Soon Ruby discovers how to make money - lots of money: while wearing silk and satin and doing what she does best - dancing. Paid ten cents a dance to lead lonely men around a dance hall floor, Ruby thinks she's finally found a way out of Chicago's tenements...until swinging with the hepcats turns into swimming with the sharks.
A mesmerizing look into a little-known world and era, Ruby's story is resplendent with the sounds of great jazz, the allure of beautiful clothing, and the passions of a young generation in a country on the brink of war.
(summary from jacket flap)
Before reading this book, I hadn't read a ton of detailed historical fiction before. I wasn't sure how I was going to like it, and surprisingly, it really struck a chord with me. I loved how it covered a time period that I didn't know much about and how we were able to see it all through the eyes of someone who was easy to relate to, and real. Ruby reacted the same way any of us would have reacted in her situations and for that, I was drawn into the story completely. It slowed down a little at some parts, but there was sure to be a huge twist on the way to pull me under again. I also liked how this book wasn't so much about the action, but about the setting and making it come alive for the reader, which it really did. I was able to perfectly picture the dance hall, the black and tans, the dresses Ruby wore, and the factory she worked at in the beginning of the book. Description and details were everywhere which was wonderful. I think the other thing that made the book work was how the plot wasn't sugar coated - it showed the ugly underside of life in the 40's; not glossing over the gory parts. I was able to read about what things would have actually been like had I been living in those times. The plot twists were realistic and unexpected and everything felt as if it had been carefully planned out to add more to the story. I would definitely recommend this book if your looking for something that will teach you things but also take you back in time and sweep you away into a world that you never thought you'd experience. Even if you aren't a history lover, you'll definitely like Ten Cents A Dance.