Kelly Thielen's Reviews > Diamond Ruby

Diamond Ruby by Joseph Wallace
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Mar 02, 12

bookshelves: historical-fiction, high-school
Read in April, 2011

The last time that Ruby could remember being really happy was when she was seven years old. It was the day she spent at a baseball game with her family and caught a foul ball in the stands. She was so excited - and more importantly, in the days that followed, she learned that she had quite a talent for throwing the baseball. Ruby wouldn't realize until many years later, after so much tragedy entered her life, how important that day would become. Ruby is a strong female protagonist and Wallace does a great job of weaving a story with the history of that time in the early 1900's. I think it is a great story for anyone who enjoys history, baseball or just simply a story about a character who has to overcome some heavy diversity, but eventually finds success and happiness in life.

Booktalk Notes:The last time that Ruby could remember being really happy was when she was seven years old. It was the day she spent at a baseball game with her family and caught a foul ball in the stands. She was so excited - and more importantly, in the days that followed, she learned that she had quite a talent for throwing the baseball. Ruby wouldn't realize until many years later, after so much tragedy entered her life, how important that day would become. After that day when Ruby caught the baseball, her family would fall victim to the Spanish influenza and a terrible train accident, virtually leaving Ruby to care for her two small nieces alone at the age of 12. Ruby did her best, but things were difficult. Since one brother was still alive, though mentally ill due to two bouts of influenza and the loss of his wife, she could not get assistance from any local organizations. She tries many different jobs to make money, some of them dangerous and a little on the shady side. Then one day she hears that there is a carnival opening on Coney Island and she thinks maybe her deformity (extremely long arms) could put her in a sideshow, giving her a way to provide for the girls. When the carnival owner tells Ruby that she's not that unusual, Ruby almost gives up hope. But Ruby's niece Amanda tells him that her Aunt Ruby has a special talent; she can really throw a baseball harder and faster than most guys can. He asks Ruby to show him and then he decides to put her on the Midway as a game attraction - "Can you throw the ball faster than our Diamond Ruby?" game. They get a special machine that was recently invented that can help determine the speed of a pitch and they are in business. Things start out slow, but eventually everyone wants to see Ruby throw - even Babe Ruth. Babe tells some of his friends about Ruby and just when conditions at the carnival become unbearable, Ruby is signed to play for a minor league ball team, the Brooklyn Typhoons and she and the girls are invited to move in with a wealthy blind woman and her mother, two really true friends . Everything seems to be going her way until Ruby finds herself being bullied by the KKK and a group of people who are involved in bootlegging, as well as some local gangsters and a bookie who wants help from Ruby to improve his business. Will Ruby ever be able to find happiness and the way to a new life?
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