Author: Sara Dessen
First Published: April 2008
Format and Number of Pages: Paperback, 422
Ruby has lived most of her life depending only on herself. Her mother has struggled for years with addiction and keeping a steady job, relying heavily on Ruby for help, until she suddenly disappears. Ruby is fine with living on her own but her situation is discovered and she is forced to live with her older sister Cora who she hasn't seen in years. Ruby is given the chance to start her life over in a new neighbourhood, attending a new school with a new friend in the adorable boy-next-door Nate. She has the chance for a real future - but she won't be able to do it on her own. But Ruby has only been able to trust and depend on herself for so long...can she really rely on the help of others?
I was surprised at how many serious topics this book covered. I picked this book up last summer thinking it would be a light romance. I was surprised to find that this definitely wasn't the case. The story is told by Ruby and she is a flawed character with a lot of difficult problems. She's pessimistic and thinks everyone has an ulterior motive, a perspective I had a hard time sympathising with or liking. But I understand why Ruby thinks and acts the way she does, she's been through a lot and I really wanted to see her overcome what she's been through and have a happy ending. I enjoyed reading about Ruby because she grows a lot over the course of the book in a realistic way. She stumbles quite a bit but it was interesting to watch her change and come to terms with what has happened.
I enjoyed reading about most of the side characters as well. Everyone has their own distinct personalities, back stories and problems. There were a lot of little side stories that added to the larger story and made Ruby's world feel more complete. I liked how Ruby interacted with the other characters and how she reacted to their problems and used her experiences with them to better understand herself. I also loved reading about Ruby's relationship with her sister Cora. I had expected the main focus to be on Ruby's relationship with Nate so I was pleasantly surprised when the sisters' relationship became a main focus.
This book took me a long time to get through. I found that the pace was very slow throughout most of the book. While reading I was interested in what would happen to Ruby but I never felt much of a drive to pick it back up and keep reading. I also felt that towards the end of the book Nate's story became more of a focus but I wasn't that interested in him or his story. Though after finishing the book I was happy I had read it and was content with how things ended.
Overall I enjoyed this book. Ruby's story had a lot more to it than I initially expected and I really enjoyed reading about her family. I found the book to be slow paced but it was an interesting read. I would recommend this book for fans of YA contemporary fiction or fans of Sara Dessen. I think I'll pick up another book by her in the future!
What's your favourite Sara Dessen book? Let me know in the comments!