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RUBY LOST AND FOUND by Christina Li Kirkus Star


by Christina Li

Pub Date: May 16th, 2023
ISBN: 9780063008939
Publisher: Quill Tree Books/HarperCollins

Big feelings are uncomfortable but to be expected in this story of finding joy and community amid change and loss.

With her best friend, Mia Ortega-Anderson, moving across the country to New York, Chinese American Ruby Chu was already afraid of seventh grade, but nothing prepared her for another close friend drifting away and the unexpected death of her beloved paternal grandfather. After Ruby’s caught ditching school, her parents decide she’ll spend summer weekdays with Nai-Nai, her paternal grandmother. At first reluctant to stay somewhere her grandfather is noticeably absent, Ruby’s walls lower as she and Nai-Nai speak openly about their grief. As Ruby begins to open up and find a comfortable routine, more big changes threaten her fragile sense of safety. When a family friend’s bakery is poised for closure, Ruby and classmate Liam Yeung set out to save it. The San Francisco Chinatown community is realistically presented: Mandarin and Cantonese are spoken, not every older adult is an immigrant, and a variety of professions and experiences are portrayed. It’s unclear if impulsive, restless Ruby, who struggles in school, is neurodiverse or just stands out compared to the rest of her driven, focused family. Readers will identify with Ruby’s roller coaster of emotions amid the challenges of growing up: loved ones leaving, friendships waning, and fitting into the world authentically. Ruby is incredibly self-aware, and her emotions are given space and validity without excusing harm done.

Empathetic and emotionally intelligent.

(Fiction. 9-13)