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Last Reviewed on June 19, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 342

As a group of friends prepares to graduate from high school, they face decisions about their future. Set in the Soviet Union during the Cold War, the novel highlights the dilemmas of the generation that came of age after the Second World War. Dimka and three of his friends decide to take a gap year and explore their country before settling into pursuing their career plans. Although their families are not pleased, each of the teenagers—three boys and one girl—feel they need this voyage of self-discovery. In Dimka’s case, his older brother, Victor, is as important an influence as his parents are. Victor can better relate to the idea that duty comes first, as he remembers the wartime privations, but he too must make independent ethical decisions.

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Yurka, Alik, and Gayla all join with Dimka in a plan to travel extensively, or become “kilometer eaters.” Gayla, the only girl, wants to pursue acting; during the trip she and Dimka become a couple. Yurka is the athletic member of the group, while Alik is the artistic one. They metaphorically call it a quest for their “lucky star,” which turns out (at least temporarily) to shine over Estonia. In a small Baltic Sea town, they get low-paying working-class jobs; for the boys this means going out on a fishing trawler. Despite the enjoyable seaside atmosphere, they must stave off the tedium of the work-a-day world. Dimka grows jealous when Gayla meets a middle-aged actor who tries to seduce her with offers of helping her career.

Victor’s story of pursuing an advanced degree is interspersed with the younger characters’ adventures. When his research to conclusions vary with expectations, he makes an ethical decision not to finish his degree but to chart his own research path. While involved in the practical side of his research, Victor dies in an aircraft accident. This news propels Dimka to return to Moscow and rethink his life. The reader sees him prepared to find and commit to his own true calling as his brother had done.


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Last Updated on May 6, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 809

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...

(The entire section contains 1151 words.)

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