STARRED REVIEW
July 2015

Sharing secrets with a new friend

By Nora Raleigh Baskin
Review by
In Ruby on the Outside, Nora Raleigh Baskin gives readers a serious, relatable look into the criminal justice system and its ripple effects. The story of Ruby, her aunt and her mother contributes to the growing body of children’s literature highlighting nontraditional family structures.
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BookPage Children's Top Pick, July 2015

The summer before starting middle school, Ruby Danes meets a new girl in her neighborhood. Margalit doesn’t make Ruby feel foolish for being herself, but Ruby has never been able to reveal her deepest secret to a friend: Her mother has been in prison for six years and is sentenced for at least 10 more. Ruby keeps her life strictly compartmentalized: on the “outside,” in the real world with her peers and aunt, and on the “inside,” in prison, the only place where she can see her mother. As the girls spend more time together, Ruby struggles to find the courage to tell the truth about her life while preserving her new friendship.

In Ruby on the Outside, Nora Raleigh Baskin gives readers a serious, relatable look into the criminal justice system and its ripple effects. The story of Ruby, her aunt and her mother contributes to the growing body of children’s literature highlighting nontraditional family structures. While Ruby’s vocabulary—far beyond an average 11-year-old’s—may strike adult readers as unrealistic, the ample context clues and mature narrative voice make this title an ideal option for advanced young readers. 

Ruby’s situation is unconventional, but her anxieties about growing up different and forging lasting friendships are universal. With its careful attention to the complex emotions of a mother-child relationship, Ruby on the Outside will leave an enduring impression on young readers. 

 

 

This article was originally published in the July 2015 issue of BookPage. Download the entire issue for the Kindle or Nook.

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Ruby on the Outside

Ruby on the Outside

By Nora Raleigh Baskin
Simon & Schuster
ISBN 9781442485037

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