This book brings back the 1980s beautifully. It packs a lot into its pages: friendship, ballet, the wonders of New York City, the fear of nuclear annihilation, .... Russian Yrena is a memorable and wonderful character.
Rose sees red is a excellent read. Rose is an angry teenager, who no longer believes in frienship,love or life, therefore lives in a cloud of darkness. Yrena is a russian teenager in America for only 2 more days, after 2 years of being in the country, she has still not seen New York during the night. Both girls are neighbours but yet have never spoken more then "hello" in the 2 years that they have "known" each other. All this is changed when one night, Yrena litterally falls into Rose's room. They form and unlikly friendship within minutes and suddenly Rose is Yrena's tour guide for a night in New York city, a night that Rose, Yrena and their trio will never forget.
This book had great narative style. It felt like i was in New York City for the night. This book is all about finding out who you really are and finding that friendship really does exist, you just have to find the right friends.
In the beginning, Rose is not a pleasant character. Her thoughts are black, in her own words, and she continually puts herself down when dancing. As well, it's clear through her memories that her former best friend, Daisy, was a b-word-that-rhymes-with-witch. Rose, however, seems oblivious to the fact. Thankfully, she redeems herself once actually out and about the night with Yrena and the triplets Callisto, Caitlin and Caleb. She has some deep thoughts concerning friendship, the wars and liberty, but it's really the other characters who shine: Yrena, Maurice (a fellow ballerina, but male) and Caleb, who develops to become Rose's love interest:
[Yrena and Caleb are arguing over how Russians feel things, and Americans are all on the surface.]
"You can't see into my heart," Caleb said.
Caleb was looking at me with an intensity that made me buzz. He was wired up, and that thing I felt growing between us just kept buzzing louder. I wanted to take his hand. I wanted to just take it and hold it and tell him that I loved the way he argued.
The writing here (the use of Caleb twice in two sentences, Rose's use of "and"s and "just"s) reflect Cecil Castellucci's style, and it works very eloquently, especially so (in my opinion) in the above quoted paragraph. The themes of peace and war help the whole novel feel uplifting and hopeful; the teens each express wishes for harmony, but at times, Rose's interior monologue is too poetic. Dance as a motif develops her character and gives her the self-esteem lacking in the beginning. Her parents are introduced too briefly at the start to truly make an impact at the end, but the brother, Todd, is integrated neatly.
I thought Rose Sees Red would be a night of teens being teens, e.g. getting drunk, getting stoned, getting high... I'm glad it wasn't.
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