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Finding Ruby Starling

by Karen Rivers

Karen Rivers’ latest book for young readers is a successful take on a Parent Trap–type plot, albeit with the benefits of modern technology and the unexpected twist of a friendly ghost.

Finding Ruby StarlingWhile goofing around online with a face-matching app called FaceTrace, 12-year-old Ruth Quayle, adopted daughter of a heart surgeon and a scientist, discovers a British look-alike in trendier clothes named Ruby Starling. Through a series of Tumblr posts, emails with her best friend, conversations with her parents, and contact with Ruby, Ruth determines that she and the other girl are identical twins who somehow became separated as infants.

Unconvinced by Ruth’s theory, Ruby reaches out to her friends for advice, though she knows that only her mother – a busy artist distracted by her work – and her recently deceased grandmother could tell her the truth. Wishing she could talk to her grandmother, Ruby writes her letters. When a painting of Ruby as a baby with a shadow baby in the background falls off the wall, Ruby becomes convinced it is a message sent by her grandmother from beyond the grave.

Rivers does a good job capturing the girls’ youthful voices. The twins are dealing with some big issues – fear, confusion, abandonment, grief – but these heavier themes are woven seamlessly into interactions with family and friends. The inclusion of some quirky teachings from a Buddhist calendar, occasional ghostly messages from grandma, and innocent boyfriend-related drama help maintain the story’s feel-good vibe.

Rivers’ tale of long-lost twins could easily have followed a typical, comedic path. While there is much humour in the book, by showing how the lives of Ruth and Ruby are enriched through their discovery of each other, readers are presented with a more complex narrative exploring themes of family and friendship.


Reviewer: Helen Kubiw

Publisher: Scholastic Canada


Price: $18.99

Page Count: 304 pp

Format: Cloth

ISBN: 978- 0-55453-479-6

Released: Sept

Issue Date: October 2014

Categories: Children and YA Fiction, Kids’ Books

Age Range: 9-12