Ruby Unscripted

31 Jul

Image

Cindy Martinusen-Coloma

Publisher: Thomas Nelson

Publish Date: 2009

Paperback: 263 pages

Book Blurb:

Ruby’s finding out that life is all about improve…

Small-town girl Rudy Madden has moved to Marin County, California; home of high-dollar homes and green living. The girls wear shoes that cost more than her entire paycheck at the Underground Coffeehouse & Theater, and the students are well-traveled and full of life experiences that Ruby can only dream of.

All the stresses of adjusting to her new life have put a strain on her ability to trust God. Yet when mysterious and eye-catching Kaden invites Ruby to join the school’s film group, the puzzle piece start to fit. Her love of art finds perfect expression and the film friends really seem to get her. When a major Hollywood director hosts an amateur film contest, Ruby and her friends are stoked.

But Ruby’s old life is tugging her backward and her frantic balancing act throws her new life totally off track. To top things off, Ruby makes a mistake that could cost her the chance of a lifetime.

Life would be so much easier if Ruby just had a script to follow with a happy ending guaranteed. But what’s the fun in that?

Stand alone or series: Poor Ruby is all alone.

Why I read this book: I’m always looking for teen Christian fiction, it’s becoming easier to find but is still not as accessible as I’d like. Ruby is fifteen, in high school and is working on her faith; that was all I really needed to know.

Review:

This novel has a wide cast of characters, some bright and colorful, some not. The spunkiest of the cast, in my opinion, is her new friend Frankie. He keeps the conversations hopping and a page with him is never dull. Similarly, Mac, Ruby’s little brother, is a ray of sunshine owing largely to his little kid cuteness and Ruby’s affection for him. On the opposite end of the scale, Nick, the supposed love of her fifteen year life, is flat. He is fashioned after the stereotypical high school popular boy. Ruby’s character falls somewhere in the middle. She is nowhere near as fun and flippant as Frankie and she does follow many small town and teenage girl stereotypes but expands past a flat rendering. It seemed to me like most of action in the novel happens around Ruby, not to her, which can make for slow reading at times.

Slow or fast pacing, I can’t decide the target age for this book. Teen novels tend to be aspirational, meaning that the reading level tends to be younger than the age of the characters because teens and pre-teens want to read about kids older than themselves. The main character is 15, with that knowledge alone I would be led to believe that the target age is 13-15 year olds. Some of the plotlines and hurdles are completely befitting that age range. However, the novel also discusses sex in a way I’m not sure I’d be wanting my 13-15 year old reading.

(Be warned this is a spoiler) Ruby’s small-town best friend Kate has sex with her secret, much older boyfriend. Ruby doesn’t understand her friend’s decision and Kate does not attempt to provide an explanation. Ruby tries to remain supportive of her defensive friend but eventually tells Kate what she believes: She’s made a huge mistake. The two fight and Ruby feels “anger, even hate” for her friend who’s cut her off. When Kate’s parents find out all the consequences, mainly a grounding, happen off stage and are summarized in one short paragraph. Only after Kate’s parents find out do the two friends talk again. Kate  does not express regret for her decision as much as her regret for public and painful way it ended. That is not the example I would wish for young Christian teens to read.

As a writer of Christian teen fiction I found Ruby Unscripted an interesting study what to do and what not to do in this genre. The bright characters of the novel kept me coming back to see what they’d say next. However in the year since I read it, I’ve yet to recommend it to anyone and I recommend books like doctors hand out prescriptions.

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