What It Is About: Ruby Danes is about to start middle-school, but she has a great big secret. She lives with her aunt, but calls her Matoo. Ruby's actual mother is in prison and will be there for many years to come. Ruby doesn't want anyone to know including her friend Kristin. When Kristin goes off to summer camp, Ruby is left on her own until she meets a new girl named Margalit. They instantly become the best of friends and Ruby loves this new relationship. She wants to tell Margalit everything about her life, but doesn't know if she can tell her ultimate secret. As the two girls get closer and closer, Ruby realizes that their two families' past history might actually be closely tied together which makes her really not want to tell Margalit about her secret. It isn't easy growing up without a father, a mother behind bars, and not many friends, but Ruby is determined to make the best out of her situation.
What I Thought Of It: I'm not surprised how much I enjoyed this story because I usually love everything that Colby Sharp recommends. It was a quick read and so different from anything else I've read. I think it is great that authors are tackling hard subject matter because our young readers need to be exposed to all sorts of people, families, and situations. This plot was handled with sensitive "gloves" and I so appreciated that as the reader. I have watched the three seasons of "Orange is the New Black" and as I was reading this story I was reminded of those "mothers/characters" and how difficult it was to be away from their children. I could sense that in this story.
Who Should Read It: It is always hard to pin-point the age group for a particular novel. This is targeted toward the middle-grade reader. I think an individual reader in grades four, five, and six could handle it quite easily. If a reader younger than fourth grade wanted to experience the story, it would be perfect for a shared reading with their parent. In my opinion it would make for an excellent read aloud. I will most likely be sharing it with my students (4th) this fall. There are so many wonderful and important themes that could come from the story. Happy Reading!
Rating: 5 STARS out of 5 Stars