Finding Ruby Starling (paperback)
by Karen Rivers
AR Level 5.2, 9 points
I really want to tell you that this tween version of “The Parent Trap” taking place in the digital age was terrible. Vocabulary included words like “totes” and “brill” and “fab” and “amazeballs” and those are the kinds of made up or shortened words that make me cringe like an email riddled with grammatical errors. Yikes. Might as well include “fam bam” so I can have a real coronary. So I want to tell you that it was a painful book to read, but it really, really wasn’t. I finished it in a day, because 1) I needed to meet my 52 book goal, and 2) it was actually pretty entertaining to read. Not Fifty Shades or Insurgent entertaining, but it was an innocent, family-friendly story I had to see through.
First of all, the book is completely written via email, except for a few hand-written letters. Ruth is a twelve (almost thirteen) year old girl who discovers her twin on the Internet using FaceTrace. She emails this girl (Ruby), and they start getting to know each other via email. Ruby lives in England with her artsy mum, her dad and nan having passed away while Ruth lives in America with her loving and attentive adoptive parents. You would think the story would be about that- two long-lost twins getting to know each other. But it wasn’t just that… both girls had similar feelings of isolation and felt incomplete somehow. Ruth struggled with her anger and hurt of being abandoned, as well as guilt for having the heart of a little girl who died. Ruby struggled with her mother’s distractedness and her nan passing away recently. There was a lot more raw emotion and thematic elements to this book that I expected. I guess my expectations weren’t very high, and I was pleasantly surprise with the “meat” that was actually there.
What I liked about this book was that it did surprise me. I feel there are a lot of fluffy books out there to get kids reading. I assumed this was a fluffy book based on the language, cover picture, and content of the initial emails. As I read, I realized that a lot of students could relate to some of the feelings of the characters in this book. Most likely, my students have not been adopted, and most do not have heart transplants, but many could feel the loneliness, isolation, guilt, and burden of having to raise their parents. If nothing else, it give students an opportunity to see a situation from different perspectives and learn to forgive others.
What I didn’t like this book was that I can’t get the word “totes” out of my head. It will never become part of my vocabulary, but I can’t seem to get this out of my head:
So maybe that’s not such a bad thing.
Thanks again to Daniela for letting me borrow her book. I need to just get her summer reading list.
Book 51 of 52 (1 more to go!)