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Ruby in the Sky

Review

Ruby in the Sky

In Jeanne Zulick Ferruolo's debut middle grade novel RUBY IN THE SKY, 12-year-old Ruby Moon Hayes and her mother have moved once again in search of their “forever home.” But even though they have connections to the small town of Fortin, Vermont and Aunt Cecy lives there, things do not go smoothly at first. Less than a week after they arrive, Dahlia Hayes is arrested for assaulting her boss, something she says she didn’t do, and Ruby, exploring the neighborhood with her dog Bob, is yelled out by a strange woman. School is no more welcoming for Ruby, whose shyness and reluctance to settle in makes her stand out to the other kids. One of her classmates, however, refuses to give up on her and does his best to make her feel like Fortin might really be her forever home.

"Full of heartache, honesty, courage and natural magic, [RUBY IN THE SKY] is a sweet and thoughtful read, written with a sincere and genuine voice."

Ahmad Saleem knows what it is like to be the stranger and the new kid. He also knows what it is like to have lost someone, as Ruby has. Ahmad came to the country having fled war-torn Syria. While he feels safe with his uncle, he misses the rest of his family who are scattered far and wide. Though Ruby rebuffs his offers of kindness and friendship many times, Ahmad persists and eventually she comes to trust him. Their partnership on the big Wax Museum project for school gives Ruby some much-needed confidence. Even as her friendship with the sweet and patient Ahmad is emerging, Ruby becomes close with the mysterious Abigail Jacobs.

Abigail is not-so-affectionately known as the “Bird Lady” in Fortin because of her habit of avoiding human company in favor of the company of birds and other wildlife. She lives in a shed next door to her own boarded-up house, a house full of painful memories. But, like Ahmad, she recognizes in Ruby the need for kindness and compassion and the two begin to form a friendship (with a little help from Ruby’s dog Bob Van Doodle). Slowly Ruby pieces together Abigail’s story and separates fact from rumor. As the town elite seeks to punish Abigail for her strangeness and sorrow, Ruby seeks to better understand her and to honor the great woman she knows her to be.

As the weeks go by it becomes clear that Ruby’s mom would like to stay in Fortin, but what if it never feels like home to Ruby? As the Wax Museum presentation draws close, Ruby must think deeply about friendship and family, loss, love and, of course, the meaning of home.

RUBY IN THE SKY by Jeanne Zulick Ferruolo is a poignant story of one girls longing for the past and for stability and her desire to build a fearless and positive future. Full of heartache, honesty, courage and natural magic, it is a sweet and thoughtful read, written with a sincere and genuine voice. Ferruolo does a wonderful job introducing a myriad of themes (death, relocation, trauma, anxiety, bullying and more) without crowding her story. A terrific debut middle grade novel!

Reviewed by Sarah Rachel Egelman on February 26, 2019

Ruby in the Sky
by Jeanne Zulick Ferruolo