Monday, May 15, 2023

MMGM-- Ruby Lost and Found

Marvelous Middle Grade Monday
and #IMWAYR day 

Li, Christine. Ruby Lost and Found
May 16, 2023 by Quill Tree Books
E ARC provided by Edelweiss Plus

Ruby is having a hard time now that seventh grade is out for the summer. She got into some trouble at school, and isn't doing as well academically as her older sister Viv. She's also still mourning the loss of her beloved Ye-Ye (grandfather), which has been made harder since her Nai-Nai (grandmother) left San Francisco's Chinatown after the funeral and hasn't been in contact. Since her parents are running a start up energy company, they don't want to have Ruby at home alone, and also have concerns about Nai-Nai, so Ruby gets to spend the summer hanging out with her grandmother and going to the local community center. Nai-Nai has a good network of friends, which include May, who used to run the popular local bakery that is now operated by her daughter Annie, as well as the somewhat mean Auntie Lin. There's a boy, Liam, who comes with his own grandmother, but Ruby is struggling with so much friend drama in her own life that she ignores the fact that he is lonely, and rebuffs his frienship. Ruby is also upset that May's bakery may go out of business, and looks into ways to save it, including applying for the Legacy Business Registry and getting grants. Even more concerning is Nai-Nai's increasing memory lapses. In flashbacks to past summers, we see some of the scavenger hunts that Ye-Ye put together, and Ruby longs for the time that they spent together and feels guilty about what happened the day he died. When she finally tells her parents about Nai-Nai's problems, they want to have her see a doctor, but Nai-Nai interprets this as them trying to lock her up, and decides to run away. Ruby goes with her, and they do get a chance to see some of the city's sites that held a special place in Nai-Nai's memory. Will Ruby be able to keep her world from changing, or will she be able to adapt to it when it does?
Strengths: Having been to San Francisco in 1989, I definitely think that it would be a great city for a scavenger hunt, especially having read Bertman's The Book Scavenger as well! This had a great setting, and lots of opportunities to get out into the city to see the sights. It was very realistic that Ruby's parents didn't want to leave her home alone after she got into some trouble, and it made perfect sense for her to go and stay with her grandmother. I liked the positive depiction of the senior center, and the inclusion of a bakery that has fallen on hard time. Businesses don't last forever, as we also saw in Chao's When You Wish Upon a Lantern and Boba Time for Pearl Li. My town recently lost it's local Yogi's Hoagies (which must have housed an ice cream shop back in the day) to a Dunkin' Donuts shop, and feelings ran pretty high about that. Luckily, Schneider's Bakery seems to still be going strong. Overall, this is an interesting look at how life changes around us even when we might not want it to. 
Weaknesses: There was so much going on with the bakery and Nai-Nai that we didn't get to really fully investigate Ruby's problems with Naomi and Mia. I'm a big fan of friend drama, but almost with that it had been left out. There were also some currents of Ruby feeling that she was a disappointment to her parents that could have been fleshed out, but then the book would have been too long! 
What I really think: I always enjoy a book with close bonds with grandparents, and think this book will be popular with readers who liked Messner's The Brilliant Fall of Gianna Z, Sumner's Roll with It, Camiccia's The Memory Keeper,  Yee's Maizy Chen's Last Chance.


  1. I haven't seen this book before, but it sounds like an excellent read, and I appreciate your picks of similar books too! (Also, this is mostly irrelevant, but the cover is totally beautiful.) Thanks so much for the thoughtful review, Karen!

  2. This on is on my reading list! I was bummed I didn't manage to get an ARC, but I'm definitely going to read it. I love stories about close bonds with grandparents, too. :) Happy MMGM!

  3. I, too, love grandparent relationships in books, probably because I am one! This sounds like a good book, even with the weaknesses you point out. I'll keep my eye open for it. Thanks for your thoughtful review.