Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

Love, Ruby Lavender

Love, Ruby Lavender

Deborah Wiles
Fiction  Series
For ages 8 to 12
Harcourt, 2005   ISBN: 978-0152054786

Ruby Lavender lives in Halleluia, Mississippi with her mother. Her grandmother, Miss Eula, plays a very important part in Ruby’s life. For example Miss Eula is the one who drives the get away car when Ruby decides to rescue some chickens from certain death when Peterson’s Egg Ranch is closed down. It is Miss Eula who helps Ruby settle their three rescued chickens (Ivy, Bemmie, and Bess) in an old greenhouse behind her large pink house. It is also Miss Eula who comforts and guides Ruby when life becomes complicated.

This is why Ruby is practically distraught when Miss Eula announces that she is leaving for Hawaii in just a few days. How on earth will Ruby get through the summer without Miss Eula? How will she take care of the chickens without Miss Eula to help her? If Miss Eula goes away she will miss the hatching of Ivy’s eggs.  It is all too much and Ruby is not only unhappy but she is also annoyed. She has nothing to look forward to now except fights with Melba Jane, hours spent sweeping out Miss Mattie’s store, and time spent reading to the chickens.

In fact Ruby’s summer turns out to be full of adventures of all kinds. New people move into town and there is a new child around to play with. Then there is the operetta to help out with and Melba Jane to avoid. This latter activity turns out to be very hard to achieve and the two girls end up clashing in the most dreadful way. Innocent bystanders become casualties in their ‘war’ and Ruby is determined that she will never forgive Melba Jane. Not ever.

This unforgettable story is told both in third person narrative and through letters which Ruby and Miss Eula write to each other. All the characters in this story are full of life, practically leaping off the pages complete with their peculiarities, their hurts, and the triumphs. Their voices are funny, touching, and true to life and readers may find themselves wishing that they too could visit Ruby in her little southern town. Because of her experiences during her Miss Eula-less summer, Ruby learns how to forgive and how to let go of painful feelings.