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Playing a Part

Written by Daria Wilke

Translated by Marian Schwartz

The first young adult novel translated from Russian, a brave coming-out, coming-of-age story.

In June 2013, the Russian government passed laws prohibiting "gay propaganda," threatening jail time and fines to offenders. That same month, in spite of these harsh laws, a Russian publisher released Playing a Part, a young adult novel with openly gay characters. It was a brave, bold act, and now this groundbreaking story has been translated for American readers. In Playing a Part, Grisha adores everything about the Moscow puppet theater where his parents work, and spends as much time there as he can. But life outside the theater is not so wonderful. The boys in Grisha's class bully him mercilessly, and his own grandfather says hateful things about how he's not "masculine" enough. Life goes from bad to worse when Grisha learns that Sam, his favorite actor and mentor, is moving: He's leaving the country to escape the extreme homophobia he faces in Russia. How Grisha overcomes these trials and writes himself a new role in his own story is heartfelt, courageous, and hopeful.

Reviews and Awards

The Rainbow List, 2016

"Readers will be engrossed by the plot hatched by Grisha and Sashok to get Lyolik back and moved by the story's themes and the rich, image-laden language: 'The theater starts murmuring, speaking, tramping, and rustling.' A lovely, moving novel with a bittersweet conclusion." - Kirkus Reviews

“Groundbreaking… The beautifully drawn characters entice readers into the story, which, although small in scope, illuminates crucially important issues about sexual identity, acceptance, and the pressure to conform. The book is unique in that it highlights the problems encountered by teens who are gender neutral or still exploring their sexual identity. The writing is lyrical and the imagery vivid…. A wonderfully inventive and poignant addition to the LGBTQ canon.” - Voice of Youth Advocates

“Given the relative rarity of English translations of international YA fiction, first-time author Wilke’s coming-of-age story is a bold and welcome addition…. Grisha’s voice is authentic and soulful, and his descriptions of the vibrant world of the puppet theater, his refuge, are sumptuous.” - Publishers Weekly

“Wilke’s novel is grounded by Grishka’s journey of self-discovery and struggle with the related interplay of internal and external forces. Schwartz’s translation retains the spectacular imagery of Moscow during the holiday season and the magic of the puppet theater.” - Booklist

Purchase Options
Indiebound • Scholastic Store • Amazon • Barnes & Noble

Spring 2015
Young Adult Fiction
ISBN: 978-0-545-72607-8
Price: $18.99/$20.99
Trim Size: 5 1/2" x 8 1/4"
Page Count: 176
Foreign Rights: Scholastic
Translation Rights: Samokat
Rights Available? yes