(Literary Essentials: World Fiction)

A Ticket to the Stars is the story of four young Russians who, after graduation from high school, find themselves at a crossroads, undecided about their future. Dimka, Yurka, Alik, and the only girl among them, Galya, all seventeen years old, are tired of school and so are not interested in attending college, at least for the present. Yurka is a good athlete, Alik writes poetry, Galya has acting ambitions, and Dimka is a well-rounded young man without any special aspirations. Dimka’s older brother, Victor, is a space scientist who would like to help him decide about his future. Victor would like to see Dimka go to college because he firmly believes in Dimka’s abilities.

The young people spend their days wandering around, doing nothing constructive, and discussing the possibility of going away from Moscow; it does not matter where, as long as it is away from home. The apartment house where they live, their parents, older relatives, and the authorities all fill them with boredom and a desire to rebel. Dimka does not want to follow in his successful brother’s steps. His words speak for the group as a whole:Victor, it was Pa and Ma who planned your life for you while you were still kicking in your cradle.... In your whole life you’ve never even once taken an important decision, never accepted a serious risk. To hell with that! Before we’re even born, everything is worked out for us, our whole future is all mapped out.... I’d rather be a tramp and suffer all sorts of setbacks than go through my whole life being a nice little boy doing what others tell me.

The group finally decides to go west, toward the Baltic coast, leaving everything to chance and to their lucky star. Victor realizes that he cannot change their minds and reluctantly resigns himself to their decision. They become “kilometer eaters” and in a few days on a train reach a small Estonian town on the Baltic Sea. Enjoying full freedom for the first time in their lives, they...

(The entire section is 809 words.)