Synopses & Reviews
Lucy DiCamillo is safely surrounded by her books, music, and art-but none of these reclusive comforts or even the protective efforts of her grandmother, Kitty, can shield her thoughts from the mother she can barely recall. Lucy senses her grandmother holds the key, but Kitty seems as eager to hide the past as Lucy is eager to find it.
From the streets of San Francisco and Sacramento to the lush vineyards of the Sonoma Valley, Lucy follows the thread of memory in search of a heritage that seems long-buried with her mother, Ruby.
What she finds is as enigmatic and stirring as it is startling in this redemptive tale about the power of faith and mother-daughter love.
"Forkner's debut novel about family secrets never quite gets off the ground. When Ruby DiCamillo dies unexpectedly from asthma, her eight-year-old daughter Lucy blames herself for not reaching her mother's inhaler in time. As she grows into a young woman, her grandmother Kitty overprotects her, filling her life with art, music and schoolwork but leaving wide gaps in her knowledge of family history. When Lucy insists on learning about her heritage, the secrets are as complicated as her grandmother's intricate quilts. Fortner struggles with creating successful flashbacks, and the pacing drags. In several places the plot takes a contrived twist (a photo conveniently falling out of an album, a chance meeting in a coffee shop) in order to move forward. Most difficult to believe is that the key tragedy that has shaped the family's history has kept Lucy's grandmother estranged from her family for so long. However, Fortner creates some memorable descriptions, and readers of faith should appreciate the strong Christian themes of this novel and its redemptive ending." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
About the Author
Tina Ann Forkner lives in Wyoming with her husband and their three bright children. Tina is active in her community and serves on the Laramie County Library Foundation Board of Directors. Ruby Among Us is her first novel.
Reading Group Guide
1. Chapter 1 begins, “The first person to hold Ruby was the last person to let her go. That was her mother, Kitty.” What do you think Lucy meant by this statement?
2. Lucy, by no choice of her own, has never lived in a traditional family, but she has been sheltered first by Ruby and then by Kitty. Do you think Lucy calling her mother and grandmother by their first names indicates a healthy adaptation of family for her? a confused sense of family? What is the relationship of Lucy to her mother, Ruby? to her grandmother, Kitty? How are these different or the same?
3. What is the significance of the names Lucy and Ruby- in general and specifically to each of them?
4. What do you think of Kittys question upon Rubys death? How can God allow terrible things to happen? Why doesnt he protect children from horrible things?
5. What questions and issues does Lucy tuck away when Ruby dies? Do you think Kittys efforts to keep so many secrets were to shield Lucy from pain or to protect herself? Were her intentions noble or selfish?
6. Could Lucy have become whole without learning the truth about Ruby? about Kitty? Why or why not? Did Kitty ever become whole?
7. Each woman in the novel has artistic talents and interests- piano, art, quilting, literature. What parallels do you see between Lucys artistic pursuits and those of Ruby and Kitty? And what parallels do you see in other aspects of the story?
8. Why do you think Lucy and Kitty keep so many of Rubys things?
9. How might the references to air and breath and to Rubys and Lucys asthma inhalers be symbolic?
10. When Lucy, with Max, first sees the fountain in La Rosaleda, how might its streams be meaningful to her?
11. What does the scenery in the novel-gardens, vineyards, La Rosaleda-evoke? Do the roses and vines bear any significance to the rest of the story? What parallels do you see?
12. In the end, what did Lucy mean by “a homecoming”?