Gier, Kerstin. Ruby Red. New York: Henry Holt and Company, 2009. Print. ISBN 9780312551513
Ruby Red is a rather unconventional historical fiction novel. Rather than taking place in some distant past, the majority of the novel takes place in modern day England. What makes this a historical fiction novel? Gwyneth, and her male counterpart Gideon, can travel into the past.
In a family with a woman who has visions and a legacy of women who can travel through time, Gwyneth is happily, and hopelessly, normal. She likes to watch movies with her best friend, avoid her prissy aunt and grandmother, and frequently talks to a ghost that haunts the staircase of her school. A ghost no one else can see. Alright, she knows she isn’t perfectly normal, but she isn’t waiting to travel through time like her cousin Charlotte.
When Gwyneth unexpectedly starts traveling through time, she finds herself plunged into a mystery, and life, she was never prepared for.
While there is time travel involved (including an explanation of why a person cannot travel to the future), I find this an odd pick as a historical fiction. The reader may learn a few things about Rococo or 1912 fashion, but the most memorable aspects are the modern characters, with one exception.
It is hard to pin down a definite age group for this book. Gwyneth is sixteen, but she can easily appeal to younger teens as well. While it does focus on a girl and involve some token gossip and fashion moments, for the most part Gwyneth is portrayed as a normal teen. Yes, she has a crush and an opinion on kissing, but I think the biggest turn off for guys would actually be the Square Fish cover (with a girl in a ball gown as opposed to the ornate red cover it was previously released with), not the actual story.
Ruby Red is a fast paced, exciting read. While the ending is acceptable, it definitely leaves the reader looking for Sapphire Blue, its first sequel.
YALSA Best Fiction for Young Adults, 2012
Lone Star Reading List, 2012
Booklist *starred review* — “What makes this such a standout is the intriguingly drawn cast, stars and supporting players both, beginning with Gwen, whose key feature is her utter normality. Despite being raised by odd characters in a strange old London house, Gwen is a girl who likes texting, watching the telly, and teasing her best friend.”
Emily Griffin—“As Gwen is thrust into training for her new life she learns about her family history, and secrets, by visiting her ancestors personally, accompanied by the attractive and arrogant Gideon, another teen time traveler. A good choice for teens interested in light sci-fi or fantasy without the paranormal focus.”
Cooper, Ilene. Booklist. April 2011. (Vol. 107, No. 16) Electronic. Accessed via CLCD at http://ezproxy.twu.edu:4529/index.php/jbookdetail/jqbookdetail?page=1&pos=5&isbn=9780805092523
Griffin, Emily. Children’s Literature. Electronic. Accessed via CLCD at http://ezproxy.twu.edu:4529/index.php/jbookdetail/jqbookdetail?page=1&pos=5&isbn=9780805092523