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Way Down Deep

by White, Ruth

Publishers Weekly :
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The opening chapters of this warmhearted story set in 1954 read like postcards from the holler, as White (Belle Prater's Boy) introduces the quirky residents of Way Down Deep, a town "cradled between the hills in a place that later became known as West Virginia." The central setting is a boardinghouse called The Roost, run by Miss Arbutus Ward, the last living member of the family that founded the town. Into her life drops Ruby, about age three, who turns up one June morning on the courthouse steps, unable to explain how she got there. Some of White's narrative teeters on the wobbly edge of farce: the Reeder siblings, for instance, are named Peter, Cedar, Jeeter, Skeeter and baby Rita ("Mama had run out of rhyming names, so she had to settle for a tongue twister," explains oldest sibling Peter). But as the mystery of Ruby's origins unravels, White reigns in her eccentric cast to focus on the girl's tender relationship with Miss Arbutus, and the story finds an emotional center. The ending is a bit neat, but this book brims with wise observations and beautifully realized moments, such as when Ruby explains what Miss Arbutus told her about why a fellow boarder, haunted by the mother who gave him up for adoption as a baby, sleeps all day: "God is in that place where sleep takes us. Way down deep inside, where all the answers lie." Ages 10-up. (Apr.)

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Syndetic Solutions - [Book Review for 9780374382513]

Book Review


School Library Journal :
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Gr 4–7—In the summer of 1944, a red-headed, curly-haired toddler mysteriously appeared on the courthouse steps in Way Down Deep, WV. No trace of how she got there or to whom she belonged was ever found. For 10 years Ruby June has lived a happy, comfortable life, well loved and cared for by Miss Arbutus Ward, owner of the local boardinghouse. The arrival of a new family in town sets in motion the unraveling of Ruby's past and the mystery of her appearance. In the process, readers are introduced to a colorful cast of characters who not only add to the rich Appalachian tone of the novel, but also lace it together with sweet humor, timeless truths, and expert foreshadowing. At first thought to be the senile ramblings of Mr. Bird Reeder, a former resident of Yonder Mountain, VA, bits of information lead Ruby to discover that she might be the child thought to have been carried off by a panther years earlier. She learns of her parents' death when she was a baby, that she has family living on top of the mountain, and of her mystical connections to Miss Ward. Captivating and thoughtful on many levels, White's novel offers humor, mystery, and a feel-good ending that a multitude of readers will find satisfying "way down deep."—D. Maria LaRocco, Cuyahoga Public Library, Strongsville, OH

Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

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