Stronger-willed than the father who abused her, a Midwestern girl sets out to find a better life.
The dynamics of Ruby’s father-dominated family life revolve around not getting caught alone with Dad in the basement. Ruby’s older sister Opal gets the brunt of their father’s sexual fury; their mother, a woman given to flights of fancy, never asks questions that might relieve her daughters’ plight. Ruby’s salvation comes from within: She has a vivid dream life; a sixth sense; and abundant love for nature, the animals she finds in the woods around her family’s home and the spirits she senses but cannot see. For much of her life, she has known she must leave home, and when the opportunity arises—she is offered a job as nanny to two beloved children of a wealthy L.A. couple—she takes it. But there she learns that it’s only the first step of her journey. Next, she needs to find her soulmate, and does so among the DVDs in the family film library. His name is Orion, a young British actor who has taken an unexplained leave of absence from Hollywood. Ruby travels to his hometown in England, ingratiates herself with his parents—the mother is a crone who sells potions and herbs; the father is a professor who researches the power of the feminine—and eventually is asked to help the parents, who have been secretly caring for Orion, injured months before in a fall from a horse. Ruby, whose dream world often bleeds into her reality, is at once frightened of her visions and willed by them. Many themes recurrent in Block’s work (Necklace of Kisses, 2005, etc., and the YA Weetzie Bat series) merge in this novel—magic, domestic violence, self-determination, the fortitude of women—and although the premise is slight and familiar, the storytelling casts a spell that transforms the narrative into something more.
A moody fairy tale of hope.