Thursday, January 24, 2008

Way Down Deep

White, Ruth. 2007. WAY DOWN DEEP. New York: Farrar, Straus & Giroux. ISBN 9780374382513 [Suggested Grade Levels 5-8]

Ruby June has lived in Way Down Deep, West Virginia for ten years. She showed up on the steps of the courthouse when she was three years-old and unable to tell anyone where she came from. The whole town adopts her, but she lives at the boarding house with the shy Miss Arbutus Ward, loved and cherished by everyone. Peopled with eccentric characters, Way Down Deep is a community of caring people who accept each other as they are and even extend their kindness and empathy to a clumsy bank robber.

Ruby June is the heart of the story, the orphan that, although loved, still wonders about her own mother whom she cannot remember. The town extends their generosity to the depressed bank robber and he is able to provide the clue that reveals Ruby’s past. She acts on this new knowledge because she must know what happened to her parents and why she ended up in Way Down Deep.

Ruby June shares the stage with the town itself. The book is filled with interesting characters who have small secrets that we are curious about. The kindness that comes from the community is enough to motivate one of the hateful people to try to let kindness change them. There is a touch of magical realism about the book, but it feels right – an organic extension of this wonderful place.

Compare this novel to other books by Ruth White. Does she use magical realism in any other novels? Why or why not?

Books by the same author:
White, Ruth. BELLE PRATER’S BOY. ISBN 9780374306687
White, Ruth. TADPOLE. ISBN 9780374310028

By Cay Geisler

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