finding ruby starling book coverReviewed by Sarah McCubbin

Two worlds collide when 12-year-old Ruth Quayle finds photographs online of Ruby Starling intermixed with her own while using an image searching software. After doing some basic research, Ruth is convinced that Ruby is her twin. As odd as that sounds, Ruth is adopted. With many things unknown about her biological family, there is room in Ruth’s world for the wildly impossible scenario that she has an unknown twin. Ruth contacts Ruby online to tell her about her theory and from there the story unfolds to reveal the surprising truth.

This story is told in a unique way. The entire book is a series of letters and emails exchanged between the characters. I found this style of writing very difficult to read for several reasons. During the course of the book, there are about 10 people who are writing emails/letters. That means the voice and font of the story is consistently changing. I found myself consistently having to double check the email headings to see who was talking. The fact that all the writing was done as letters and emails meant that there was minimal description of surroundings and people which left the whole story feeling less concrete. It had an oddly detached feel. Rather than Ruth and Ruby having real conversations with their parents about life issues like their births, adoption, and relationships, ALL communication was done via email.

Having an adopted daughter myself, I felt the issues and struggles presented in this story were fairly realistic. The target audience for this story is grades 5-9, which is typically when kids struggle with their identity. As Ruth and Ruby try to separate fact from fiction, they are continually consulting their peers for advice. The parents of both girls are very busy people apparently with little time to guide and direct their children who have unfettered access to the internet at the age of 12. In my opinion, this book is only redeemed when adults actually use it to discuss the lifestyle choices of the characters and how their decisions affect others as well as potential consequences of their choices.

Rating: ★★☆☆☆ 

Sarah McCubbin is a homeschooling and foster mom in NE Ohio where she resides with her husband and 7 children. In addition to reading great books, she enjoys gardening, traveling and blogging at Living Unboxed.

Review copy was provided free of any obligation by Arthur A. Levine Books. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.