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Reviewed by Emily-Jane Hills Orford for Readers' Favorite
It’s a difficult time for Ruby and her family. Her mother is serving in Afghanistan and Ruby, along with her father and young brother, have moved in with her grandmother. At 12, Ruby is on the cusp of being a teenager. With her mother halfway around the world, Ruby’s feelings and emotions are in turmoil. It doesn’t help that her best friend, Maddie, is suddenly part of the mean girls' group and nasty rumors about Ruby’s father are circulating in the school. Friendships are hard at the best of times, but Ruby is feeling particularly vulnerable without her mother near to help sort things out. She finds solace in her journal, where she makes lists – mostly lists of who to pray for. As hurt turns to fear when a new boy joins the class and shares that his father was recently killed in Afghanistan, Ruby must juggle more complicated emotions.
Mary Mager’s Middle-Grade novel, Ruby’s List, is deeply felt and at times heart-wrenching. All the emotions young girls go through at this age are well presented. Added to the mix is the absentee mother serving in a war zone. This will definitely speak to young readers who have loved ones serving overseas. As well, it will open up the hearts and minds of those who aren’t facing these difficult situations. The plot follows Ruby and her lists as she learns to adapt to changing friendships, separation anxiety, bullying, and a new person who mysteriously shows an unexpected interest in her life. The characters are well portrayed with compelling and believable dialogue. The setting is well described and the reader feels instantly part of the story. There will be tears in the reader’s eyes as they share Ruby’s touching story. Beautifully told.