Review: Ruby Holler

  • Author: Sharon Creech
  • Pages: 288
  • Genre: Middle-Grade

Brother and sister Dallas and Florida are the “trouble twins.” In their short thirteen years, they’ve passed through countless foster homes, only to return to their dreary orphanage, Boxton Creek Home.
Run by the Trepids, a greedy and strict couple, Boxton Creek seems impossible to escape. When Mr. Trepid informs the twins that they’ll be helping old Tiller and Sairy Morey go on separate adventures, Dallas and Florida are suspicious.
As the twins adjust to the natural beauty of the outdoors, help the Tillers prepare for their adventures, and foil a robbery, their ultimate search for freedom leads them home to Ruby Holler.

Ruby Holler is the second book by Creech that I’ve read that is about orphans.  However, this book is a much sweeter story in comparison to The Wanderer.  It’s also a tad bit slower in pacing, and a little more relaxed, which makes sense, given it takes place in a holler instead of a boat out on the ocean.
The difference in pacing and intensity is one of the reasons why I didn’t love Ruby Holler nearly as much as The Wanderer.  What really sealed it’s fate, however, was how simple it was.  Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed being able to relax into a comforting story set in a house surrounded by woods with two elderly and very loving people who enjoyed cooking wonderful food.  It just wasn’t all that realistic compared to The Wanderer.  It felt more like the fantasies of children who are stuck living in the kinds of cold, unloving places like Boxton Creek Home.  It was the kind of fantasy I would have dreamed up when I was a little younger than Dallas and Florida.
If it weren’t for the interwoven message that children deserve to be loved for who they are instead of constantly punished for the small troubles they get into, I might have considered the story to be more fitting to children who are not quite ready for Middle-Grade books.  In fact, Ruby Holler is only one step above a chapter book.  I would definitely recommend it for children who need something a little more advanced, but who aren’t ready for something like “Harry Potter” or “A Series of Unfortunate Events.”

Review: The Wanderer

Thirteen-year-old Sophie hears the sea calling, promising adventure and a chance for discovery as she sets sail for England with her three uncles and two cousins. Sophie’s cousin Cody isn’t sure he has the strength to prove himself to the crew and to his father. Through Sophie’s and Cody’s travel logs, we hear stories of the past and the daily challenges of surviving at sea as The Wanderer sails toward its destination — and its passengers search for their places in the world. – Goodreads Synopsis

I don’t remember when or why I purchased this ebook, but I’m glad I did.  I’m also happy to have finally read The Wanderer and discovered how talented Sharon Creech is at writing Middle Grade fiction.
My reason for saying Creech is talented is because I’m not remotely interested in sailing, and yet this story of a family sailing trip to England from the East Coast of the United States pulled me in from the first line.  I remember thinking, “OK, this grabbed my interest, but I’m sure it will quickly disappear as I get further into the book.”  Nope, not even close.  I was irritated whenever I had to put my Nook down to do anything else.  I stayed up well past my bedtime when I got to the climax of the story because I HAD to know what would happen.  Creech managed this by keeping Sophie’s back story a mystery and doling out bits and pieces that led to more questions throughout the book.  She also made sure that my assumptions about the other characters were called into question.  It wasn’t until after I finished reading it that I realized this is a Hero’s Journey, with a rhythm that matched the ocean they sailed on.
While I still have no interest in sailing (I prefer relaxing while I travel), I became extremely interested in reading more of Creech’s work.  I’ll be reviewing another of her books, Ruby Holler, later this week, but just know you definitely have to read The Wanderer.  It might not make you want to go sailing, but you could find yourself viewing the meaning of family in a new light.
This book qualifies for the COYER Scavenger Hunt item #29 (a book with no magical or futuristic elements).