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"Val embodies what it means to live the American dream." — Robin Roberts, Good Morning America Valentin Chmerkovskiy, the world championship-winning and beloved Dancing with the Stars ballroom dancer invites fans into his life as never before, sharing the experiences, including the failures and successes, that have shaped him, from his early childhood in Ukraine to growing "Val embodies what it means to live the American dream." — Robin Roberts, Good Morning America Valentin Chmerkovskiy, the world championship-winning and beloved Dancing with the Stars ballroom dancer invites fans into his life as never before, sharing the experiences, including the failures and successes, that have shaped him, from his early childhood in Ukraine to growing up as an immigrant in the U.S. to his rise to international fame. Val has captivated viewers of Dancing with the Stars since his first performance in 2011. While DWTS demonstrates Val’s beautiful physicality, this moving memoir illuminates his soul, revealing a deep, thoughtful person who channels his emotions and socially conscious views through his art. The beloved dance champion and choreographer assesses his life and career so far—where he’s come from and where he hopes to go. For the first time, Val looks back at his childhood in Odessa, Ukraine, and his Jewish family’s immigration to the United States—including what it was like to grow up as a stranger desperate to fit into a different culture, how he worked to become a premiere dancer, and, of course, the collaborations and competitions with his brother and fellow DWTS sensation, Maksim "Maks" Chmerkovskiy. Val speaks warmly of his close-knit family and shares intimate and inspiring stories meant to offer hope and motivation not only to fans but to everyone with a dream. Enduring anti-Semitism in their native land, Val’s parents wanted a better life for their children—a desire that led them to leave everything they knew and start again thousands of miles away in a foreign country. It was a gamble that paid off—after years of practice and discipline, Val, along with his older brother Maks, have reached the pinnacle of success. Though he admits he sometimes still feels like an outsider, Val expresses his enduring gratitude for everything that America represents and pays homage to his adopted nation and the opportunities it has afforded him and his family. Inspiring, heartfelt, and compulsively readable—and showcasing sixteen-pages of never-before-seen photographs, as well as a foreword by brother Maks—Val’s memoir is filled with the moments that have moved and shaped him, and is sure to touch readers’ hearts as well.


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"Val embodies what it means to live the American dream." — Robin Roberts, Good Morning America Valentin Chmerkovskiy, the world championship-winning and beloved Dancing with the Stars ballroom dancer invites fans into his life as never before, sharing the experiences, including the failures and successes, that have shaped him, from his early childhood in Ukraine to growing "Val embodies what it means to live the American dream." — Robin Roberts, Good Morning America Valentin Chmerkovskiy, the world championship-winning and beloved Dancing with the Stars ballroom dancer invites fans into his life as never before, sharing the experiences, including the failures and successes, that have shaped him, from his early childhood in Ukraine to growing up as an immigrant in the U.S. to his rise to international fame. Val has captivated viewers of Dancing with the Stars since his first performance in 2011. While DWTS demonstrates Val’s beautiful physicality, this moving memoir illuminates his soul, revealing a deep, thoughtful person who channels his emotions and socially conscious views through his art. The beloved dance champion and choreographer assesses his life and career so far—where he’s come from and where he hopes to go. For the first time, Val looks back at his childhood in Odessa, Ukraine, and his Jewish family’s immigration to the United States—including what it was like to grow up as a stranger desperate to fit into a different culture, how he worked to become a premiere dancer, and, of course, the collaborations and competitions with his brother and fellow DWTS sensation, Maksim "Maks" Chmerkovskiy. Val speaks warmly of his close-knit family and shares intimate and inspiring stories meant to offer hope and motivation not only to fans but to everyone with a dream. Enduring anti-Semitism in their native land, Val’s parents wanted a better life for their children—a desire that led them to leave everything they knew and start again thousands of miles away in a foreign country. It was a gamble that paid off—after years of practice and discipline, Val, along with his older brother Maks, have reached the pinnacle of success. Though he admits he sometimes still feels like an outsider, Val expresses his enduring gratitude for everything that America represents and pays homage to his adopted nation and the opportunities it has afforded him and his family. Inspiring, heartfelt, and compulsively readable—and showcasing sixteen-pages of never-before-seen photographs, as well as a foreword by brother Maks—Val’s memoir is filled with the moments that have moved and shaped him, and is sure to touch readers’ hearts as well.

30 review for I'll Never Change My Name: An Immigrant's American Dream from Ukraine to the USA to Dancing with the Stars

  1. 4 out of 5

    Cheryl

    I've put off writing this review for a couple of days because this is a hard one for me. I'm a fan. I've followed Val since he first appeared as a guest on Dancing With the Stars. I've watched him grow as a teacher and coach. I've admired his relationship with Maks, there is no doubt it is genuine. I've seen him with children with special needs or who are ill and they just love him. All that being said, I enjoyed the book but I didn't love it. I liked that he didn't hide the struggles his family I've put off writing this review for a couple of days because this is a hard one for me. I'm a fan. I've followed Val since he first appeared as a guest on Dancing With the Stars. I've watched him grow as a teacher and coach. I've admired his relationship with Maks, there is no doubt it is genuine. I've seen him with children with special needs or who are ill and they just love him. All that being said, I enjoyed the book but I didn't love it. I liked that he didn't hide the struggles his family had. It wasn't all easy when they migrated to America but they put in the blood sweat and tears to get where they are today. The love for his adopted country also comes through although I found it interesting that nothing was mentioned about actually becoming a citizen. I also like the way he respected his dance partners when discussing his time with them. Other authors haven't been as kind. What I didn't like, first the profanity could have been toned down. As Val would say, it was extra. It didn't necessarily offend me, it just detracted from the story he was telling. With his creativity and background, I think he could have got his point across with a whole lot less of it. Second, he comes across as arrogant and cocky. I'm not saying to some degree he isn't, but he is also so much more and I feel that got lost. For a fan it was an enjoyable read with a few insights I didn't already know.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Elizabeth7781

    I gobbled up this book in three airplane flights. On one leg, my seatmate, a 10 y/o boy remarked, ‘wow. You read fast. You’re the only one in our row who didn’t watch a movie’. I tried to tell him what pleasure there was to be had in reading, but he wasn’t buying it. I can’t think of many 30ish authors whose autobiographies are worth reading. But here is one of them. Bias alert: I am quite a fan of the brothers Chmerkovskiy and squarely in their camp. This book is frank (let me repeat, candid as I gobbled up this book in three airplane flights. On one leg, my seatmate, a 10 y/o boy remarked, ‘wow. You read fast. You’re the only one in our row who didn’t watch a movie’. I tried to tell him what pleasure there was to be had in reading, but he wasn’t buying it. I can’t think of many 30ish authors whose autobiographies are worth reading. But here is one of them. Bias alert: I am quite a fan of the brothers Chmerkovskiy and squarely in their camp. This book is frank (let me repeat, candid as in nothingheldback candor, the kind that made me realize the age gap between Val and me. My proper Bostonian mother would have been mortified had I written a book this truthful at that age). But Val is authentic and dishes out his life just as it has been served to him - straight up and fast. Val connects with people - very well. To his thinking, there is not much purpose in a life without connection and helping others. His large and generous heart beats true on every page. I appreciate his love, pride and loyalty for his family (see #familyovereverything). His life is an immigrant’s patriotic love story for America. He’s a hugely accomplished ballroom dancer and one of the great delights of the book, having followed Val for some years now, were the behind-the-scenes backstories on his partners, their triumphs and trials. Val also provided insight into the mind-boggling elements of choreography (he makes it look so easy!). He melted me with the line, “I paint with movement”. In 2016, I had the pleasure of seeing Val and his brother Maks’ dance tour. During the performance, there were women with their smartphones held up for much of the show, catching it on video. (I should mention these women were in the first two rows of the audience!). Maks and Val actually asked them - WHY are you doing this?! Wouldn’t you rather be IN THE MOMENT, savoring the sheer joy of an artist’s live performance? Val mentions this 21st century issue in his book - that being on a cell phone is taking us out of the moment, away from actually living and experiencing life. This is a lesson worth learning young.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Jesse

    This book really let us get a glimpse of the man behind the ballroom shoes. I've always felt like Val puts up his most professional side, as anyone should ... really. But with his book, written in his words? I got more of a complete picture. He's a man with a lot of charisma, and he's been through a surprising amount. And side note ... I've never in my life read a book where the sexiness of the individual comes through in the written word quite as well as this. Holy hell, Val. I thought he did a This book really let us get a glimpse of the man behind the ballroom shoes. I've always felt like Val puts up his most professional side, as anyone should ... really. But with his book, written in his words? I got more of a complete picture. He's a man with a lot of charisma, and he's been through a surprising amount. And side note ... I've never in my life read a book where the sexiness of the individual comes through in the written word quite as well as this. Holy hell, Val. I thought he did a great job with the audiobook, and I'd definitely listen through this again at some point.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Jackie Lantern

    Yawn! Boring read, not particularly engaging or well-written. Just trading on the supposed fame of the author.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Shelley

    I’m a huge fan of Val on DWTS. I also really enjoyed listening to his book about his experiences leading up to and including DWTS. I was surprised how the first 1/3 of the book felt like it was a tribute to his brother Maks, but he did a good job of explaining how very instrumental Maks was in shaping his life and career. As such, I can see dedicating so much of the book to his appreciation for his brother. I love that he read the book himself as I love hearing how an author means various commen I’m a huge fan of Val on DWTS. I also really enjoyed listening to his book about his experiences leading up to and including DWTS. I was surprised how the first 1/3 of the book felt like it was a tribute to his brother Maks, but he did a good job of explaining how very instrumental Maks was in shaping his life and career. As such, I can see dedicating so much of the book to his appreciation for his brother. I love that he read the book himself as I love hearing how an author means various comments to be intended in the author’s voice. He’s funny, intelligent, and brash at times. Overall, I enjoyed listening to his book and was thankful I invested the time listening to it.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Leanne

    Dancing has been a passion of mine since I was a kid, so it is no surprise that I'm a complete fan of "Dancing with the Stars," and, consequently, the dancers on it. This book is a combination of information about the show, the Chmerkovskiy family's immigration, and Val's personal life. You've heard of tell-alls? Well, Val definitely tells ALL. Sometimes that is fascinating, and sometimes that is a little uncomfortable. That said, I truly enjoyed reading his book.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Amy

    I listened and enjoyed! He’s a character and also very inspiring and hard working!

  8. 4 out of 5

    Rosalyn Fisher

    All time DWTS fan who previously liked Val, but came away from this book with a much more negative feeling about him. Although he said/wrote all the right words about thanking people and being humble, I found the entire book (including his Best Man's speech at Maks' wedding!) to be totally self-serving and egocentric. I'm cure that was not Valya's intent, but it's how I perceived it. Book itself described incidents totally out of order. Jumped around a lot...not my style for a memoir. Sorry I rea All time DWTS fan who previously liked Val, but came away from this book with a much more negative feeling about him. Although he said/wrote all the right words about thanking people and being humble, I found the entire book (including his Best Man's speech at Maks' wedding!) to be totally self-serving and egocentric. I'm cure that was not Valya's intent, but it's how I perceived it. Book itself described incidents totally out of order. Jumped around a lot...not my style for a memoir. Sorry I read it.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Amy

    What an enjoyable book! It was interesting to hear Val's story in his own words (literally - as I listened to the audiobook). Val is obviously an individual with dedication and loyalty to his family. He is also a very driven, ambitious man who shares his experiences and how he has evolved to where he currently is today. Val has hustle and drive. His take on situations are very frank and I appreciate that. Val's way of expressing that social media is "a fake world that has become a generation's r What an enjoyable book! It was interesting to hear Val's story in his own words (literally - as I listened to the audiobook). Val is obviously an individual with dedication and loyalty to his family. He is also a very driven, ambitious man who shares his experiences and how he has evolved to where he currently is today. Val has hustle and drive. His take on situations are very frank and I appreciate that. Val's way of expressing that social media is "a fake world that has become a generation's reality" is spot on. Val is very motivational and it'll be exciting to see what he achieves next.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Mediaman

    How can a sidekick dancer write one of the more interesting recent memoirs? My expectations were low when starting this book but this is an engaging book (written with a lot of help from Gil Reavill) that wisely places the author's season-by-season experiences with dance partners as the focus of many chapters. Instead of just starting with his life story in Ukraine he uses the first fifth of the book to tell stories about how he got on Dancing with the Stars and what it was like to work with cel How can a sidekick dancer write one of the more interesting recent memoirs? My expectations were low when starting this book but this is an engaging book (written with a lot of help from Gil Reavill) that wisely places the author's season-by-season experiences with dance partners as the focus of many chapters. Instead of just starting with his life story in Ukraine he uses the first fifth of the book to tell stories about how he got on Dancing with the Stars and what it was like to work with celebrity partners. After the first few chapters he then mixes in his life story with that of his time on the show, making for mostly entertaining reading. This man is deeply dedicated to his family and we get to know them well here. The early years in Ukraine are interesting (though there could have been more details) and when the family moves to the Bronx it's a shock that they encounter more violence and insults in America than they ever did in Russia. The book becomes half about his famous dancing brother as well, with the two boys in competition with each other. Val goes overboard teasing his brother, putting him down, revealing embarrassing stories (he could have skipped the part about Maks filling his pants on the airplane when they moved to America!), and bragging that Val the younger had become equal to the elder. But through it all there is demonstrative love, with family first above everything else in life. If there's one problem with the book it's that Val brags about himself way too much and has a bigger ego than any I've ever encountered before in a book. He thinks incredibly highly of himself and makes sure you know about his successful dance career. He repeats mentions of his awards over and over, and the book starts to drag as he goes into too much detail about his world competitions or successes. Cutting out 30 or 40 pages would have made the read a little smoother and made the reader appreciate the author more. We don't need to have him continue to tell us how great he is--we got it the first time it's stated on the very first page! I actually learned a life lesson from the book. Val had to make a distinction between the children he taught at the family's dance studio in New Jersey and the adults that he coached on the TV show or in their adult dancing clubs. The kids that wanted to become champions were disciplined strictly and barked at in order to improve, but that would have only upset adults that were dancing for fun who needed to be finessed with lower expectations and a lot of personal charm. I took away that when teaching someone you have to think about the expectations of the audience (the student) and adapt the goals or teaching style to what they're there of, even if you're training multiple groups the same thing. Also what's interesting is what Val doesn't say in the book. There are a couple of his celebrity partners that he basically ignores (Danica McKellar must have been trouble because he quickly skips past her while devoting a dozen pages to each of most stars). There are also some private details that he leaves out (his dad's shifty finances, implying that the Mafia was involved in some of his family's business dealings, and failing to talk much about women Val was involved with). But overall it's a surprisingly good book that has a lot of depth and in the end is turned into an inspirational story.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Vin

    Update 7/3/2018: So far Val has explained how he met Laurie, how Maks got onto DWTS, how he got onto DWTS, complained that he screwed up with Elisabetta Canalis, how he redeemed himself with Sherri and Kelly, and how he creepily went on chat forums to defend Maks. And all I kept thinking was "He isn't as into himself as I thought." Yet at the same time, I had this reaction: Don't get me wrong, yes he redeemed himself after his first season but at the same time it kinda strikes me as hilarious th Update 7/3/2018: So far Val has explained how he met Laurie, how Maks got onto DWTS, how he got onto DWTS, complained that he screwed up with Elisabetta Canalis, how he redeemed himself with Sherri and Kelly, and how he creepily went on chat forums to defend Maks. And all I kept thinking was "He isn't as into himself as I thought." Yet at the same time, I had this reaction: Don't get me wrong, yes he redeemed himself after his first season but at the same time it kinda strikes me as hilarious that he and Kelly faked their romance angle so much just to stick around. You weren't fooling anyone Val....we knew it was fake. The thing that bothered me more was that he still comes across as a bit over confident still. Update 7/4/2018: His family story/background is amazing. I never knew some of this. It was touched upon on DWTS but now I'm getting why Maks and Val are different in a sense. Update 7/5/2018: The stuff about his partners on the show in this section was VERY enlightening. Kinda feel bad for Janel to be honest though. She must have thought "boyfriend and a great experience" and like Val said, they were quickly overtaken media-wise with the romance angle. But at the same time they could have stopped it. Just could have went instead of writing about it and complaining. Just a thought: Elizabeth was a fun section since she did this on the show: Danica was a sweetheart. Boring but a sweetheart. LOVE her Hallmark movies though. Rumer falls into the same catagory as Danica but anyone that can do this and look that good doing it....you have my respect. And Zendaya......oy. Ok so I hated this pairing on the show because I still think she was over scored. She definitely had an experience though according to Val. Kinda weird she went from this to this though at the drop of a hat: The stuff about how his life in America when he was younger was captivating. I have to give him credit on one thing in particular: He can do it all. Dancer? check. Media personality? check. Rapper? check. Writer? Check. Violin player? Check. Basketball player? Apparently so. The insight about Maks is just eye opening though. Maks has softened a bit as he got older it seems. His insight into Italian first names is SPOT ON. Update 7/6/2018: The sections about competitions and Dance With Me were captivating. Not so much the section about the Ukranian version of the Bachelor. But it gave me my favorite quote from the memoir: "According to the concept of The Bachelor , Sasha was the supposed love of Maks's life. She lasted with my brother for all of two days." The chapters about the remainder of his celebrity partners were great. He and Tamar were a fun pairing but I still got the sense from Val that he liked that season a bit more than others. Plus they did this: Ginger is the perfect example of unexpected. She is a gem. Laurie is the highlight of the past couple of seasons of the show in my opinion and it seems like he loves her as much as the rest of the world does, which is great. Normani was a tough section and season for me due to two reasons: 1)Overscored and 2)Overrated in general. She has a great voice but she isn't that good of a dancer and America must have picked up on that since she came in third and"shocked" everyone. Nice that Val made the band have fun on tour though? In hindsight, not a surprise the band broke up. Only minor complaint I had about the ending was that he should have just added a bit more about Victoria but I guess the next book will have more about her experience on the show? Final Review This was an unexpected treat and he is a great writer. Saying that, I cannot wait for his next one.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Nicole

    I’ve watched Dancing with the Stars (DwtS) off and on over the years. Who wins doesn’t really matter, and I don’t vote for anyone. I don’t care for the manufactured melodrama and suspense elements of the show; when I watch, it’s only for the dance performances. I’m not much of a dancer myself (though sometimes I’d like to be), and some steps/styles appeal to me more than others. I’ve never heard of many of the “stars” before their appearances on the show. Val isn’t my favourite of the pro dancer I’ve watched Dancing with the Stars (DwtS) off and on over the years. Who wins doesn’t really matter, and I don’t vote for anyone. I don’t care for the manufactured melodrama and suspense elements of the show; when I watch, it’s only for the dance performances. I’m not much of a dancer myself (though sometimes I’d like to be), and some steps/styles appeal to me more than others. I’ve never heard of many of the “stars” before their appearances on the show. Val isn’t my favourite of the pro dancers, but I don’t say that to be mean; it’s just that I’m not a fangirl. I never gave any previous thought to what sort of life Val (or his somewhat infamous brother, Maks) had beyond the show. But I was browsing the library shelves one day in a “let’s see what’s here”/“maybe I’ll try something different” mindset, and I ran across this. I thought: “Immigrant from Ukraine? Okay, I’ll give it a try.” Turns out things on DwtS are even more contrived than I figured. And Val’s not crazy about that aspect of it, either. “When someone labels you, it means they can stop thinking about you as a human being” (page 11). Val explains that he’s writing to reveal different aspects of himself and others and to show the patriotism of a grateful immigrant. He hopes to be inspirational, or at least entertaining. He believes in being encouraging to others, as he was given encouragement and opportunities throughout his life. There’s not enough of some things and a little too much of others. Val’s over-the-top but big-hearted. His unique voice definitely comes through. He’s funny. And he achieves his goal of showing that people have many aspects and of being entertaining at times. Some of the stuff about competition was lost on me. He says he believes personal growth (whether his own or his dance partner’s) is more important than winning a competition, he likes to win, too. The humble brag can get a bit old. Anyone hoping for any really juicy gossip or nasty comments about celebrities won’t find it here. Val keeps it positive and doesn’t get into graphic details, which is absolutely fine with me. Overall, I liked it enough that, if he does write another book--as he says he’d like to--I’d be up for checking it out.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Rachael

    I am an avid fan of "Dancing with the Stars" and was ecstatic when Val Chmerkovskiy decided to join his brother, Maks, on the show. Knowing Val's many talents including his music, I expected this book to be phenomenal. Perhaps my expectations were too high in that regard. Although I did enjoy the book, it wasn't the most exhilarating for me. There were points in the middle where I had to put the book down for a while and return to it later. It wasn't that the topics were particularly heavy at th I am an avid fan of "Dancing with the Stars" and was ecstatic when Val Chmerkovskiy decided to join his brother, Maks, on the show. Knowing Val's many talents including his music, I expected this book to be phenomenal. Perhaps my expectations were too high in that regard. Although I did enjoy the book, it wasn't the most exhilarating for me. There were points in the middle where I had to put the book down for a while and return to it later. It wasn't that the topics were particularly heavy at that stage, but that I had no incentive to keep reading. I understand how the setup worked, switching back and forth between entertainment world and personal world, but I felt that made the story disjointed at points. I would have preferred a chronological progression but I can understand that authors would not want readers skipping parts of the story to get to others. I have seen a few reviews that complained about the amount of profanity in the book, but I felt that added authenticity. I could hear Val's voice in my head (no, I did not purchase the audiobook) as I read the story. It helped me to get the flow of the story and made the sarcastic moments that much better. (By the way, the sarcasm was my favorite part!) Overall, I found this to be a good book, but not one that stands at the top of my favorite memoirs.

  14. 4 out of 5

    dreaming_ginger_unicorn

    I have such mixed feelings about this book. I am a fan of DWTS and pro dancer Val. It was interesting learning about his early life, and I admire him for how he has survived through so much at such a young age. I enjoyed the light and fluffy parts where he discussed his time on DWTS. I appreciated how he divided up his book going back and forth between growing up and DWTS/ current things. However, things became out of order and took a few pages to catch back up. I thought that the foul language I have such mixed feelings about this book. I am a fan of DWTS and pro dancer Val. It was interesting learning about his early life, and I admire him for how he has survived through so much at such a young age. I enjoyed the light and fluffy parts where he discussed his time on DWTS. I appreciated how he divided up his book going back and forth between growing up and DWTS/ current things. However, things became out of order and took a few pages to catch back up. I thought that the foul language was unnecessary at times and distracted from his story. I know this is how he grew up and who he was —BUT there were times where the foul language seemed forced and like I said earlier, unnecessary. There were times he came off arrogant and brash - other times he was genuinely humble and loving. There were a few times where his description of some of his earlier partners was bordering on distasteful. But the majority of the time, he showed the utmost respect for his partners. Again, mixed feelings. Overall, a good book: slow at some points, but learned more about Val and the incredible things he is doing.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Jennifer Brass

    Book rating: 3.5 stars I won the ARC version of this book through goodreads giveaways. I was looking through a list of all good reads giveaways and saw this title. There was no book cover photo. From the blurb, I assumed it was a fictional immigrants story. I was excited when I found out that I had won a copy because the book sounded like it had a good premise. Imagine my shock when I saw Val’s picture on the book! I am a casual GWTS fan and was excited that I had won the book. In the beginning he Book rating: 3.5 stars I won the ARC version of this book through goodreads giveaways. I was looking through a list of all good reads giveaways and saw this title. There was no book cover photo. From the blurb, I assumed it was a fictional immigrants story. I was excited when I found out that I had won a copy because the book sounded like it had a good premise. Imagine my shock when I saw Val’s picture on the book! I am a casual GWTS fan and was excited that I had won the book. In the beginning he writes about how his parents discussed about immigrating to America. He talks about how difficult it was to get traveling papers and such. He goes on in a linearly style, talking about comming to America, meeting and living with family who lives in America and that he and his brother Maks each being gifted something they were surprised and excited to be given. I enjoyed the story and sympathized with Val and Maks when they were unwelcome by other kids in their neighborhood. The story about how Val and Maks became dancers and how their parents became owners of a dance studio was very interesting. Val gives an expert understanding of why Maks is so hard on the celebrity dancers. It has nothing to do with dislike or anything else I thought. Honestly until he worked with Kirstie Alley, I thought he was a smug and arrogant jerk. He really worked with her and I saw a teacher trying to really help his student. Van gives the reader a greater understanding of why his brother teaches the way he does. I do still consider him a little arrogant, but now I understand why he is that way. I enjoyed learning about them and their parents. Some of the stories were very interesting. Overall I liked the book but I just couldn’t finish it. I stopped about half way through. There were some problems I had with it. Mainly, I am someone who prefers to read a book that is in the progression from beginning to end. This book jumps all around going backwards and fowards. In the beginning there is a linear progression but than the book changes from someone writing to someone talking. It goes from deciding to go to America to being immigrants to Maks getting a call from GWTS to him working on DWTS back to when they were teens than back when they first immigrated and than to when he was writing the book. Annother problem I had was because the book went from event to event and time to time I was often confused as to what year the event he was talking about was taking place. The book is written as more of a long conversation/monologue rather than in a normal written format. It may be better to use audible rather than to read it. My cleaning lady found the book while doing her job and asked me about it. I gave it to her after I stopped reading it. She was very happy. I did ask her if she would post a review on Amazon, hopefully she will enjoy it more than I did and leave a good review. If I were to recommend this book to someone, I would suggest they use audible as they may enjoy Val reading his book more than trying to read it themselves. I applaud Val for not using a ghost writer. He did a good job for someone who has never written anything before. *EDIT* I gave the book to a friend of my parents who saw the book on my coffee table. She asked me a lot of questions and I could tell she was intrested in the book. I gave it to her as I just couldn't finish it. She returned it two weeks later. She told me that she couldn't finish because of the same problem I had. The book goes from the past, to the future and back again which is very confusing to read. It is now sitting on my burow. My brother vacations at a time share. The time share has a lending libary. Next time he goes, I will ask him to add this book to their shelves. My hope is that someone who can read the whole book finds it and enjoys it. I also hope for Val that if there is a person like that, they review it and pass the book on.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Jennifer

    I won an ARC of this book through Goodreads Giveaways. While not a diehard DWTS fan, I am a casual viewer, so I know of and admire Val and Maks. I loved the parts that dealt with Val growing up in Ukraine and immigrating to the US with his family when he was still very young, then having to navigate Brooklyn and the international competitive dance world as a kid and teenager, before ultimately landing his first gig on DWTS. The writing felt very open and honest, inviting the reader in, rather th I won an ARC of this book through Goodreads Giveaways. While not a diehard DWTS fan, I am a casual viewer, so I know of and admire Val and Maks. I loved the parts that dealt with Val growing up in Ukraine and immigrating to the US with his family when he was still very young, then having to navigate Brooklyn and the international competitive dance world as a kid and teenager, before ultimately landing his first gig on DWTS. The writing felt very open and honest, inviting the reader in, rather than keeping them at arms length. The DWTS parts felt a bit chaotic in the way they were presented, jumping around in time. It made keeping track of the chronology a bit difficult, but nonetheless, it was fun and insightful reading about the unique connections with each different dance partner. I'd recommend this if you are a fan of DWTS, memoirs, or just looking for an uplifting and inspiring story.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Lauren

    Probably the first nonfiction book I've voluntarily read and wow. Such an eye-opening read. Things I never knew about the Chmerkovskiy brothers, about how they got their start on DWTS. Their struggle to become American, to make something of themselves but not lose who they were in the process. I love how close they were and are, how much Val loves dance . . . And to be able to read about America from the perspective of an immigrant family, to see what we take for granted or don't see at all but h Probably the first nonfiction book I've voluntarily read and wow. Such an eye-opening read. Things I never knew about the Chmerkovskiy brothers, about how they got their start on DWTS. Their struggle to become American, to make something of themselves but not lose who they were in the process. I love how close they were and are, how much Val loves dance . . . And to be able to read about America from the perspective of an immigrant family, to see what we take for granted or don't see at all but he saw as, well, as he said in the book: "freedom." Reading about his experiences with his celebrity partners was surreal, almost, seeing how he interacted with each of them, how he learned from them as much as they learned from him . . . I was moved to tears several times during this book. Definitely recommend this.

  18. 4 out of 5

    JoLene

    Dancing with the Stars is one of my guilty pleasures. I love to dance, have taken ballroom dancing and have recently went to the DwtS Tour. The day after the performance, I was in B&N and saw this. Since it's an autobiography and that's the PBT tag this month, I decided to read it. Val (and his big brother Maks) grew up in Odessa (Ukraine) and due to their jewish ancestry were able to immigrate to US with their parents. The book covers all aspects of his life so far (he is in his early 30s). This Dancing with the Stars is one of my guilty pleasures. I love to dance, have taken ballroom dancing and have recently went to the DwtS Tour. The day after the performance, I was in B&N and saw this. Since it's an autobiography and that's the PBT tag this month, I decided to read it. Val (and his big brother Maks) grew up in Odessa (Ukraine) and due to their jewish ancestry were able to immigrate to US with their parents. The book covers all aspects of his life so far (he is in his early 30s). This was an interesting read. Val is quite the character - he is a really talented guy and he is a very family oriented guy. He is pretty arrogant and definitely an alpha male (he calls himself that) -- these aspects of his character was a little off-putting sometimes. The love and gratitude he has for his parents, brother and the US are evident on every page. His toast at his brother's wedding brought a tear to my eye. Overall, if you are a fan of the show (and him), you might want to pick this up. He doesn't really dish a lot of dirt about his co-stars or celebrities but he does talk about how the show has changed him and how he hopes that it impacts the celebrities that he is paired with.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Rebecca

    I listened to this as an audio-book because I wanted to hear the author tell his own tale. I'm a fan of Val's from his time on DWTS and was curious to know more. Obviously, he's still a young guy with lots of living to do, but he was very open and honest about everything he and his family have gone through thus far. For people who are already fans of his, this might be a nice book to pick up for further insights into his life. For people who aren't already familiar with him, I would say this pro I listened to this as an audio-book because I wanted to hear the author tell his own tale. I'm a fan of Val's from his time on DWTS and was curious to know more. Obviously, he's still a young guy with lots of living to do, but he was very open and honest about everything he and his family have gone through thus far. For people who are already fans of his, this might be a nice book to pick up for further insights into his life. For people who aren't already familiar with him, I would say this probably isn't the book for you - just because he doesn't come across in the best light. Val is very kind and says all the right things about gratitude and being thankful, but a lot of it seemed...not dishonest, per se...but a bit self-serving. It was kind of a put-off. For me, the book was perfectly okay but not a must-read.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Melinda M

    I'll Never Change My Name: An Immigrant’s American Dream from Ukraine to the USA to Dancing With the Stars by Valentin Chmerkovskiy is his story. Valentin Chmerkovskiy shares the hard with the good of his life. He and his family show that you have to work hard but The American Dream is still attainable. The stories from his childhood thru his time with Dancing With The Stars gives a glimpse into how close his family is and his hard work to achieve his goal. It is a first person account of histor I'll Never Change My Name: An Immigrant’s American Dream from Ukraine to the USA to Dancing With the Stars by Valentin Chmerkovskiy is his story. Valentin Chmerkovskiy shares the hard with the good of his life. He and his family show that you have to work hard but The American Dream is still attainable. The stories from his childhood thru his time with Dancing With The Stars gives a glimpse into how close his family is and his hard work to achieve his goal. It is a first person account of history which in reality is everyday life written down. Valentin Chmerkovskiy explains and shows why he is proud of where he came from and why he is happy to be in America. this book is well written and a great addition to the genre of bibliographies. I received a copy thru a Goodreads Giveaway.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Stephanie Dragon

    I absolutely loved this book. If you like Dancing with the Stars (or any type of dancing), a funny-light read, and the concept of assimilating into a new culture, then you would like this book. This book does have a good amount of DWTS talk and the partners that he has had and the struggles and triumphs along with those journeys. However, Val also dives deep into his family's journey to the states which was humbling and eye-opening. I am sad that I read this book so fast. It really is an easy re I absolutely loved this book. If you like Dancing with the Stars (or any type of dancing), a funny-light read, and the concept of assimilating into a new culture, then you would like this book. This book does have a good amount of DWTS talk and the partners that he has had and the struggles and triumphs along with those journeys. However, Val also dives deep into his family's journey to the states which was humbling and eye-opening. I am sad that I read this book so fast. It really is an easy read and I found myself laughing and also tearing up at some of the situations mentioned. I have been a fan of Vals for a long time and it felt like I met him in real life by reading this book. I highly recommend if you have interests in anything I just stated previously.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Nikki

    I really tried with this one because I like Val on DWTS but it was such a chore to get through. First of all, it is not terribly well-written and it was kind of all over the place. I also found the amount of ego pulsing from the pages unbearable and I feared I might hurt myself with all of the eye rolling that was going on. He even managed to make it a Maks-Val combo ego much of the time which was quite too much, if I do say so myself. As far as the audiobook goes, I found Val's reading of it in I really tried with this one because I like Val on DWTS but it was such a chore to get through. First of all, it is not terribly well-written and it was kind of all over the place. I also found the amount of ego pulsing from the pages unbearable and I feared I might hurt myself with all of the eye rolling that was going on. He even managed to make it a Maks-Val combo ego much of the time which was quite too much, if I do say so myself. As far as the audiobook goes, I found Val's reading of it incredibly slow and it frustrated me further. Overall the book comes across as an ego stroking and little more.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Annie Inkley

    I really enjoyed this book. As a long time fan of DWTS, it was fun to get this “behind the scenes” glimpse of what it really is like for the pros. I loved Val’s story of family, immigration, hardwork, love of country, and perseverance and I felt like it was constructed in a way that kept me reading. I love Val’s confidence and that that was something his family and friends encouraged him to hang on to. I think his is a story that would be great for kids. That said, I wouldn’t recommend this one I really enjoyed this book. As a long time fan of DWTS, it was fun to get this “behind the scenes” glimpse of what it really is like for the pros. I loved Val’s story of family, immigration, hardwork, love of country, and perseverance and I felt like it was constructed in a way that kept me reading. I love Val’s confidence and that that was something his family and friends encouraged him to hang on to. I think his is a story that would be great for kids. That said, I wouldn’t recommend this one for kids because there was a lot of profanity. I listened to the audiobook and had to shut it off if my kids were in the room. Normally that doesn’t bother me, but I just felt like it was too much.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Jasmine Wei

    Fascinating story of an immigrant family from Ukraine to Brooklyn, NY. I read the book during my winter break & trip to NYC. It's awesome reading the book while traveling there, I got to know more about people's everyday lives by reading about Valentin'e experience, how his family immigrated and adapted to the life in America, how he grew up in Brooklyn Streets and opened the family dance studio in New Jersey, how he went on to become a superstar with international competitions and Dancing with Fascinating story of an immigrant family from Ukraine to Brooklyn, NY. I read the book during my winter break & trip to NYC. It's awesome reading the book while traveling there, I got to know more about people's everyday lives by reading about Valentin'e experience, how his family immigrated and adapted to the life in America, how he grew up in Brooklyn Streets and opened the family dance studio in New Jersey, how he went on to become a superstar with international competitions and Dancing with the Stars. Great to see backstage stories of DWTS too. The literature value is good too - Valentin is good at writing, a master at the English language.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Jill

    The author’s story is a familiar one. Immigrate to the United States, work hard, and become successful. He sharpened his Latin dance skills into two wins on Dancing with the Stars, becoming a household name in the process. Chmerkovskiy describes how the steps from his early life in Odessa, Ukraine and subsequent move to New Jersey gave him the discipline and flexibility to work with different partners and dance styles. The photographic section provided context to the material presented. Story fl The author’s story is a familiar one. Immigrate to the United States, work hard, and become successful. He sharpened his Latin dance skills into two wins on Dancing with the Stars, becoming a household name in the process. Chmerkovskiy describes how the steps from his early life in Odessa, Ukraine and subsequent move to New Jersey gave him the discipline and flexibility to work with different partners and dance styles. The photographic section provided context to the material presented. Story flow could have been better.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Jennie

    I am a fan of Val and Maks and found the book a wonderful insight of where they came from and how they got to where they are today. I was especially interested in their life in Odessa, Russia, since that is where my ex-mother-in-law was born around 1900. I laughed when I read that Val was expelled from kindergarten for getting in trouble. Personally, I could have used less of the f... word, but that is just me. I would love to know if they and their family became US citizens. I would hate to see I am a fan of Val and Maks and found the book a wonderful insight of where they came from and how they got to where they are today. I was especially interested in their life in Odessa, Russia, since that is where my ex-mother-in-law was born around 1900. I laughed when I read that Val was expelled from kindergarten for getting in trouble. Personally, I could have used less of the f... word, but that is just me. I would love to know if they and their family became US citizens. I would hate to see ICE deport them.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Marilyn

    Compulsively readable story of the immigrant family from Ukraine, who entered the US with optimism and determination and started a business based on their children's talent. Val and Maks rose to the occasion amazingly well, with great devotion to family, and to dance. That Val was able to become such a fluent writer with little formal instruction is a tribute to his ambition and intelligence. He describes his dance partners with great analysis and kindness. But who is this Jenna Johnson,who rate Compulsively readable story of the immigrant family from Ukraine, who entered the US with optimism and determination and started a business based on their children's talent. Val and Maks rose to the occasion amazingly well, with great devotion to family, and to dance. That Val was able to become such a fluent writer with little formal instruction is a tribute to his ambition and intelligence. He describes his dance partners with great analysis and kindness. But who is this Jenna Johnson,who rates a whole paragraph in the acknowledgements but is never mentioned in the book?

  28. 4 out of 5

    Kathy J.

    Great read I bought this book because I am a fan. I had no idea what to expect, and was thoroughly surprised! Once I started reading I found it difficult to put down it's a wonderful story about an immigrant's family and the challenges they face. Told from the perspective of a boy as he grows into a man. I enjoyed learning about the family, their culture and their loyalties. Truly amazing.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Keri Lake

    For DWTS fans mostly I have been a fan of DWTS since the first season. I jumped at the chance to hear more behind the scenes gossip and more about the lives of pro ballroom dancers, and there was a decent amount of info given on those topics, but you also have to read through Valentin's self-aggrandizement ad nauseam. Glad I read it, but definitely found it rough around the edges as a memoir.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Joyce Berzenski

    I loved this book for all the behind the scenes info on DWTS. Val comes across as a bit full of himself, but he realizes that and admits it. If you can get by that, it’s an interesting story of one mans journey to America and stardom. I would have liked to read a little more about becoming American. He also never mentions the two tours he and Maks did together. I would have liked to hear what it was like to stage his own show. That said, I thoroughly enjoyed this book.

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