Ruby, Dahlia, Abigail, and Ahmad are all challenged to do the right thing in this debut novel.
After the sudden death of her father, Ruby and her mother, Dahlia, change cities several times before settling in Fortin, Vermont. On the first day of work, Dahlia stands up for herself against her bully employer and files a claim against him with the police. However, instead of justice, she finds herself arrested and potentially facing a year in prison. Stuck in Fortin, Ruby adopts the strategy of invisibility at school and works hard to avoid its traditional, much-anticipated wax-museum event, in which each sixth-grader researches and embodies a historic character for the whole town to see. She also makes two friends: Abigail, a reclusive neighbor who takes care of wild birds, lives in isolation, and is rumored in the small town to have worked with astronauts, and Ahmad, a Syrian kid who moved to the U.S. two years ago. The stories of the main characters intertwine beautifully, each one demonstrating the self-trust that enables them to do the right thing and to forgive. Writing in Ruby’s voice, Ferruolo creates an engaging plot peopled with complex characters that gracefully navigate many issues of our time, including women’s rights, immigration, prejudice and diversity, and bullying. Ruby, her family, and Abigail are default white.
Like Michael Collins, whom Ruby settles on for her big school project, she is a quiet hero. (Fiction. 10-14)