Saturday, March 23, 2013

The Center of Everything


The Center of Everything
by Linda Urban
Harcourt, 2013.  194 pgs. Fiction.

     Even though the next Newbery announcement is ten months away, Linda Urban's new book is already getting buzz along that front.  Rightly so.  Ruby Pepperdine lives in Bunning, New Hampshire, named for Captain Cornelius Banning who invented the doughnut hole when he poked his wife's doughnuts on the spokes of his ship's wheel during a terrible storm. Ruby's best friend and companion in the world was her grandmother Gigi, who taught her about the constellations, how to make her mind like water to absorb and diffuse all impacts, and how to care for people who needed to be cared for.  But Grandma Gigi is dead and Ruby has gone underwater.  No one really notices: not her family, not her best friend Lucy.  And now Ruby is facing her hardest day, the Bunning Day Parade which Grandma Gigi loved and participated in as a member of the Grannies for Groceries.  Ruby has made a wish, one she thinks will come true because she threw a quarter from the year she was born through the doughnut hole on Captain Bunning's statue. She wants to go back in time to just before her grandmother died to listen to what she was trying to tell her, to do what she needed to do instead of what she was told to do.  Time travel turns out not to be possible, even with the help of her old friend Lucy and her new friend Nero DeNiro, son of the owner of Delish doughnuts and asker of impertinent but interesting questions at school.  But remembering, and listening and learning from what one remembers are possible. So that is what Ruby does.  What a beautiful, funny, tender story.  Might not win the Newbery, but should certainly be in the running.

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