Ruby on the Outside

by Nora Raleigh Baskin

Ruby and her aunt visit her mom every week at the Bedford Hills Women’s Correctional... read more

Ruby and her aunt visit her mom every week at the Bedford Hills Women’s Correctional Facility, where Ruby has learned all of the rules across the years—and there are a lot of them. But Ruby hasn’t learned what, exactly, her mother did to end up in prison when Ruby was five. Not knowing is a way of coping. So, too, is not letting anyone get too close, so Ruby has never had a good friend, although she’s made brief connections with other kids visiting their parents. That changes the summer before sixth grade, when she meets Margalit. Ruby wishes she knew how to tell the truth about her mom to Margalit. But her desire is not only frustrated by missing information, it’s complicated by Ruby’s fear that her mom might be connected to the death of Margalit’s brother years before. Nora Raleigh Baskin skillfully handles the plot, avoiding an unbelievable coincidence that would have gotten in the way of everything else done so well in a story revealing emotional complexities for this child with an incarcerated parent. Ruby has memories of the night her mom was arrested, and once she learns the truth about everything, must struggle with the fact that the man who committed the crime with her mom is free. Most of all, Ruby misses having her mom in her life on a daily basis. But she also knows her mom loves her, even if she can’t be with Ruby every day. (Ages 9–12)

© Cooperative Children's Book Center, Univ. of Wisconsin - Madison, 2016

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