Last Dance On Holladay Street by Elisa Carbone (Knopf, 2005). It's 1878, and young Eva, 13, has lost Daddy Walter to tetanus and Mama Kate to consumption. All she has left is a name and address that lead her to Holladay Street, a half sister, and a biological mother from a house of ill repute. Desperate and indebted, Eva tries to make due as a dance-hall girl, which is still better than working upstairs. But is this the life Daddy Walter and Mama Kate would've wanted? A tender, thoughtful story of perseverence and loyalty. Highly recommended. Ages 10-up.
Last Dance On Holladay Street is a tremendously affecting read with a strong moral center, a story about doing what's right and finding resources within yourself. It's about the angels you meet, and how some folks find themselves in surroundings they would've never picked. To those concerned about how the author handled the subject of prostitution, I assure you that it's with a careful hand, sidestepping any elicit-ness in favor of examining the dangers and indignities of such a life. Elisa Carbone's old Denver is vivid and compelling. Last Dance also vaguely reminds me of an excellent book for a slightly younger audience, Dust From Old Bones by Sandra Forrester (Harper, 1999); they're different, but I think Dust readers will grow into Last Dance fans.
The YA Authors Cafe: interactive chats with the brightest voices for teens. Chat with Lisa Jahn-Clough on Feb. 8 about her first 'tween novel, Country Girl, City Girl (Walter Lorraine Books, 2004) and with YA authors Libba Bray, A.M. Jenkins, Catherine Atkins, and Mary E. Pearson on Feb. 15 about point of view.