Reading/Interest Level: Intermediate, Young Adult
Author: Jeanne Zulick Ferruolo
Publisher: Farrar Straus Giroux Book for Young Readers
Twelve-year-old Ruby Hayes is an expert at being invisible. So when Ruby and her mom move to Vermont, their next “forever home,” Ruby tries to be silent and unseen at school. She doesn’t want people asking about what happened to her father, or why her mother has to keep going to court. But staying invisible is hard this time when Ahmad Saleem, a Syrian refugee in her class, decides that he is Ruby’s new best friend. And Ruby finds herself drawn to Abigail, the strange old woman next door, whose house and past seem shrouded in mystery and suspicion. As rumors grow around town about the people she loves, Ruby must make a choice: stay silent and invisible, or stand up and be brave.
This book is full of vivid imagery and character growth. Readers will immediately fall in love with Ruby, a shy and quiet preteen who longs for someone to love and appreciate her and is full of repressed grief. Her connection with Abigail is utterly believable, since Ruby struggles to connect with her headstrong and sometimes neglectful mother and yearns for someone who will understand her. The minor characters experience growth alongside Ruby, and the narrative on the whole is empowering, especially for readers who may feel they don’t fit in. The themes of friendship, perseverance, and courage are beautifully woven into the story. This is ultimately a poignant and compelling novel about finding your voice and finding yourself.