One undersized but indomitable tomboy tackles tough issues with wry humor as she attempts to create the home and family for which she yearns.
Although Ruby Clyde—white, “flat as a pancake,” and preferring her cowboy outfit to dresses—does not want to grow up, she has grown-up responsibilities taking care of her childlike mother. From waking up in the back seat of the car driven by Catfish, her mother’s no-account boyfriend, to the theft of a pig from a two-bit circus and then Catfish’s failed armed robbery at a convenience store, Ruby’s 12th birthday is “Holy Longhorn cow!” With her mother and Catfish under arrest, Ruby and Bunny the pig hide from the police, heading to Paradise Ranch in the Texas Hill Country and the aunt she has just learned of: her mother’s twin sister, Eleanor, a no-nonsense, rattlesnake-killing, very ill Episcopalian nun. Idiosyncratic characters and plot twists and turns keep the story going, but it is Ruby’s distinctive voice that shines in this debut novel and makes even the most far-fetched twist seem trustworthy. Ruby’s folksy precociousness and determination are as endearing as her realization that the world is not perfect and that love comes in pieces. Based on the old-fashioned cover illustration, all main characters are white.
Rich in Southern flavor, loaded with biblical references and even a scattering of Dickens quotes: a rollicking read. (Fiction. 9-13)