Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

Way Down Deep

Way Down Deep

Ruth White
For ages 9 to 12
Farrar Straus and Giroux, 2007   ISBN: 978-0374382513

She arrived on the first day of summer in 1944, a small redheaded girl dressed in a petticoat. She told the people of Way Down Deep, West Virginia that her name was “Woo-Bee” and that she came to the town on the back of a “hossie.” This was all she knew about her extraordinary arrival and nothing else could be discovered about her. So, when lonely Miss Arbutus Ward asked to be allowed to keep the little girl, no objection was made. Thus it was that Ruby went to live at The Roost boarding house. As she was found in June she was known by all as Ruby June and it was not long before the redheaded child became a valuable and much loved member of the community.

Then when Ruby June turned twelve or thirteen, her happy and ordered life was suddenly turned upside down when a man walked into her life who knows exactly who she was. He was her uncle and he said that Ruby June looked exactly like her mother, Jolene Hurley. Ruby June discovers that her parents were killed in a car crash in 1944 and she, Ruby Jo, was then sent to live with her grandmother in Virginia. One night she suddenly disappeared from her bed and was never heard from again. How Ruby got from the Yonder Mountain in Virginia to Way Down Deep sixty miles away in just one night is still a mystery which no one seems to be able to figure out. What everyone cannot deny is that Ruby must now go back to her Virginia family, at least for a while.

It is very hard for Ruby June to leave her home, her friends, and Miss Arbutus, but she is a brave girl and she cannot help being curious to see what her family is like. What she finds is heartbreaking and poor Ruby June begins to understand why her mother left Yonder Mountain all those years ago and why no one wants to live with Grandma.

This extraordinary book shows yet again that Ruth White has a remarkable ability to breathe life into words creating stories that have a magical and unforgettable quality. Sprinkled with deliciously eccentric and loveable characters, this is a book which leaves a deep impression on the reader. There can be no doubt that this story is a splendid testament to the power of love.