About The Beat on Ruby’s Street (from Amazon):
The last thing eleven-year-old Ruby Tabeata expected to happen on her way to a Jack Kerouac reading was to be hauled to the police station. It’s 1958 and Ruby is the opposite of a 1950s stereotype: fierce, funny and strong willed, she is only just starting to chart her course in a family of Beat Generation artists in Greenwich Village. Ruby dreams of meeting famous poets while becoming one herself; instead, she’s accused of trying to steal fruit from a local vendor and is forced to live in a children’s home. As Ruby struggles to return to family and friends, she learns her only choice is to follow her heart. Join Ruby’s journey as she finds unexpected friendships, the courage to rebel against unjust authority and the healing power of art in this inspiring middle-grade novel by Jenna Zark.
About Jenna Zark (from Amazon):
Jenna Zark is a columnist, lyricist, playwright, and novelist. Her play A Body of Water was published by Dramatists Play Service and produced at Circle Repertory Company in New York. Other plays were produced in the Twin Cities, Los Angeles, Atlanta, and elsewhere. As a former staff writer at Scholastic Choices magazine, Zark wrote extensively for middle school and junior high students. Zark is also a member of a lyricist’s collective that performs at Twin Cities cabarets. She’s still trying to figure out if it’s harder to write a play, a novel, or a song.
You can connect with Jenna on her website.
I give The Beat on Ruby’s Street by Jenna Zark 5 out of 5 stars.
Ruby Tabeata is an old soul living in a 1950s Beat community with her family. Because of her unconventional upbringing, Ruby is torn from her family and placed in a group home, not to be returned unless her parents agree to conform to society’s expectations. Refusing to accept this turn of events, Ruby carries out a plan of her own.
Ruby’s voice is thoughtful and engaging throughout the story; poetic, yet very much what an eleven-almost-twelve year old voice should be – interested in things like leotards and golden birthdays. Her fear of “the man” and guilt over “his” entrance to her life, family, and community are completely relatable.
The Beat culture and ’50s pop culture are woven into the story through Ruby’s eyes and avoids feeling like a history lesson or game of trivia. Vocabulary and other references are presented the same way.
Overall, The Beat on Ruby’s Street is a charming and uplifting read. It’s easy to settle into and relate to, and I highly recommend it for preteen girls.
I also have to say, I am continually impressed by the calibre of middle grade fiction authors coming out of Booktrope Publishing right now. (No, I am not just saying that because they are my publisher). I am grateful to be able to recommend authors like Kandi Wyatt, Elise Stephens, Rachel Clark (whose book is not here yet, but it’s coming), and now Jenna Zark for quality stories.