Friday, May 22, 2009

Ruby Unscripted by Cindy Martinusen

This is the part where I decide that reviewing books isn't all that much fun, because I hate it when I don't like a book, and I can't talk myself into liking it! But this teen lit book not only didn't appeal to me, it left me feeling unsettled.

"Ruby Unscripted" is Cindy Martinusen's first novel in her new series for teen girls. Ruby is on her way up in the world, moving from Cottonwood, California to Marin. Her parents, divorced and now remarried to different people; her brothers, one living with her and the other with her dad; her friends, including the boy she's liked forever and her best friend since kindergarten...

...all about to stand the test of long-distance and change.

And Ruby doesn't know how she feels about that. When the new school turns out to be a bit higher class that she's expecting, and the new kids aren't the crowd she's used to running around with, Ruby's dreams for the big move are shaken.

What left me feeling shaken was the lack of moral assurance in the story. Wait, put down your rocks and let me explain! For a novel about a teen of faith, she just didn't seem to have faith in much of anything.

Granted, her parents' divorce has caused Ruby to question everything, especially God. And her relationship with Frankie was refreshing, but do we have to ignore what the Bible says in order to be friends with people who live opposite it's instruction?

Mom and Austin continued to church shop through the entire novel, and while I don't believe in keeping teens on short leashes, I do believe in some boundaries, especially when they're so young (I believe Ruby is fifteen).

Bottom line, Ruby's story is probably a great reflection of where Christian teens are in their faith: questioning, doubting, and wrestling. My issue is the lack of resolution, which I want in my teen fiction.

Too much of life is uncertain--with questions abounding in the lives of today's teens, let's at least answer the ones we know are absolutely true. God's Word is sound, people can be wrong, and God DOES love us no matter what life looks like otherwise.

These things do not come across in this particular book, and call me unrealistic, but I believe they should. However, Ruby's story is just being written, so I'm going to hold my certainty on whether this is a good series or a great series.

The story is engaging (obviously, because look at how it has me riled up!), but I couldn't tell if Cindy wasn't done with Ruby or if we were all going to be left in this tangled mess of Ruby's life.

Cindy has created some intriguing characters as well, many of whom are searching for what Ruby claims to hold but doesn't live as though she does, which is a faith in Christ. And Ruby's grandmother is a caricature of old time believers, coming across as harsh, critical and judgmental--which is probably what I'll be called after this review!

I just know we have a certain moral compass in Scripture--we must. I just know that we all can't be right, and that God must be. I just know that my daughter would want more from her book than what I found...but I also know she'd love and hurt for Ruby and her friends, and she'd want to see Ruby find her answers... this is a definite mixed review. For that reason, I'm giving "Ruby Unscripted" three out of five bookmarks with a keyring as a charm. I'm hoping that Cindy takes this series to the next level and Ruby not only finds herself, but doesn't forget who she is in the process of searching.

Happy Reading!


P.S. I already can feel the comments coming...but if you're not nice, I won't post. We can agree to disagree...this is just ONE reviewer's opinion, remember...

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Pastor Dave said...

Bravo to you for posting your honest opinion of this book. After all, that is what a reviewe does...they give their opinion. You raised some very legitimate issues, and yet were kind enought to point out the books strong points and be willing to see if these issues are resolved in a future book. The church needs more reviewers like yourself, grounded in Biblical truth, yet honest and kind at the same time, even if the honesty part hurts just a little.


Anonymous said...

I like your review. Thank you for posting it and being honest. We have a tendency to just skip over the negative reviewing part when we happen across a book we don't agree on...what you did took courage and backbone.

I also think your points are very valid. Teens do need boundaries...I know cause I'm just barely out of my teens and if parents build a strong, solid foundation for their children to walk upon (modeled by a godly example), it will mold and shape their character, help them determine what choices to make and they will always have that solid foundation (Christ) to fall back on. This is what is lacking in so many families in America today.

Otherwise, they end up being like the idle, unvirtuous teens in modern Hollywood films.

Brittanie said...

I agree with you totally which is why I have not posted my review yet. I have not figured a way to say what I need to say in a way that makes sense and is not insulting. I was highly offended by the comment about conservative Christians which I happen to be. So I am waiting till I am calmer to post. :)

Amy said...

When I was writing my review for this book, I thought...there really wasn't much resolution was there?

I appreciate that Cindy was willing to include certain elements in what I think is a realistic mindset of a lot of kids today...I think the title sums up that this book wasn't meant to be any sort of guide beyond a slice of life. That's the only thing I can figure in regards to the lack of resolution.