Book Review: Rose Sees Red by Cecil Castellucci
It's the fall of 1982. The Cold War has taken a decidedly frostier turn now that Yuri Andropov has replaced Leonid Brezhnev as Chairman of the USSR. None of this would normally be important to your average New York City high school student. Rose is more interested in New Wave bands like The Police, the Waitresses, Duran Duran and the GoGos. Unfortunately Rose's older brother Todd is infatuated with the tall and stately Yrina, a Russian girl who lives in the Soviet compound near their home in the Bronx neighbourhood of Riverdale. Yrina is constantly being tailed by older men, but neither Todd nor Rose can tell for sure whether they're KGB, CIA or both.
Rose also finds Yrina interesting though for very different reasons. Their bedrooms face each other from adjacent apartment buildings and Rose can see they have the same ballet poster. Just from the way Yrina carries herself, Rose can tell that she is also a dancer, and a good one. They even exchange knowing glances on the street one day while Todd is gawking at Yrina. But apart from this, Rose knows nothing about the mysterious Yrina.
One evening, Yrina manages to elude her secret service chaperones and shows up on the fire escape outside Rose's window. Rose lets her into her room, and they start to talk. They decide to take a walk to a nearby cafe, and then on a whim they make a spontaneous decision that eventually sparks an international uproar.
Rose sees Red is a fast moving Cold War era tale of overcoming shyness and a touching exploration of friendship and loneliness.