Playing A Part by Daria Wilke, translated by Marian Schwartz
For as long as Grisha can remember, the Moscow puppet theater has been his favorite place in the world, his home away from home. The dressing rooms and workshops, the gorgeous marble lobby, the secret passages backstage—he knows them like the back of his hand, and each time the curtain rises and the stage comes alive, it feels magical.
But life outside the theater is a different story. The boys in Grisha's class bully him mercilessly, and his own grandfather says hateful things about how Grisha's not "macho" enough. And to make things worse, Sam, Grisha's favorite actor and mentor, is moving away: He's leaving the country to escape the extreme homophobia he faces in Russia. Normally, Grisha would turn to his best friend, Sashok, for support, but she's dealing with problems of her own as she faces a potentially life-threatening heart condition.
Grisha's world is crumbling. He needs to find the strength to stand up to bullies and be there for his friends—but how?
It's interesting to note that this book, published by Arthur A. Levine Books (Scholastic) is cited as the first young adult novel from Russia to be translated into English. Here's the original cover of the novel in Russian:
My thanks to Avery Udagawa for the heads-up on this one! There's also a great interview here at the wonderful Cynsations blog with Marian Schwartz, the translator.
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