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Ruby in the Sky

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When twelve-year-old Ruby Moon Hayes and her mother move to Vermont, Ruby’s goal is to stay as silent and invisible as a new moon in the frozen sky. She doesn’t want kids at school asking about her missing father or discovering that her mother has been arrested. But keeping to herself isn’t easy when Ahmad Saleem, a Syrian refugee in her class, decides he’s her new best friend. Or when she meets “the Bird Lady,” a recluse named Abigail who lives in a ramshackle shed near Ruby’s house. No one in town understands Abigail — people whisper about her, about her boarded-up house and the terrible secrets she must be hiding.

As Mom’s trial draws near and Abigail faces eviction, Ruby is forced to make a choice: break her silence or risk losing everyone she loves. Ruby’s story is about the walls we hide behind and the magic that can happen when we are brave enough to break free.

304 pages, Hardcover

First published February 5, 2019

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About the author

Jeanne Zulick Ferruolo

3 books106 followers
JEANNE ZULICK FERRUOLO is the author of EACH OF US A UNIVERSE, A GALAXY OF SEA STARS, and RUBY IN THE SKY, which earned two starred reviews and which BOOKLIST called "quietly magical." She is also a volunteer with IRIS-Integrated Refugee & Immigrant Services (irisct.org) in New Haven, Connecticut. She lives in Ellington, Connecticut with her family. Visit her at jzulferr.com

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 200 reviews
Profile Image for Laura Shovan.
Author 11 books137 followers
May 30, 2018
I can't wait for readers to meet Ruby Moon Hayes.

When Ruby and her mother move from sunny Florida to frozen Vermont, Ruby tries to stay silent and invisible at school. She doesn’t want kids asking about her past or finding out that her outspoken mother has been arrested. (Mom speaks out about workplace harassment and the boss retaliates by calling the cops on her.) As tensions rise with her mother, whose trial date is drawing near,Ruby forms a tenuous friendship with the town’s reclusive Bird Lady . This novel explores how an admirable quality like courage is more complicated than we might think. In RUBY IN THE SKY, a parent’s courageous act upends the main character’s life.

Full disclosure: I fell in love with this middle grade novel when it was submitted to me and Tricia Clasen (THE HAUNTED HOUSE PROJECT) as a Pitch Wars manuscript. Jeanne Zulick Ferruolo's writing is breathtakingly vivid -- giving readers a "you are there" feeling of immediacy. Her background in law and her extensive work with refugee children informs this story, grounding it in real details. I found it utterly believable that 'tween Ruby's struggle to connect with her brash, occasionally neglectful mother would drive her to reach out to Bird Lady. I was drawn to this book's complex characters, lyrical writing, and fresh view on what it means to be courageous.
Profile Image for Christopher.
219 reviews169 followers
April 25, 2020
The last thing Ruby wanted to do was move into yet another forever home, particularly in Vermont. But Ruby knows the drill— don’t settle in, don’t make friends, and soon enough her mother, Dahlia, will pack them up and leave for their next forever home. However, everything changes when her mother is wrongly arrested after an altercation with an abusive boss. With the court date looming, Ruby attempts to push aside the noise and invisibly navigate sixth grade. But then she meets Abigail, her reclusive neighbor, and learns of her remarkable past.

Author Jeanne Zulick Ferruolo has delivered a knockout debut novel. Ruby is an amazing character who has been bogged down considerably by life before she’s even hit her teenage years. While she pines for the life and family she had in Washington, D.C., she’s captive to her mother’s whims, moving from city to city. Although what actually happened is not explicitly explained at the beginning of the book, it’s noted that this started sometime after Ruby’s father is no longer around. The strain this has put on the relationship between mother and daughter is believable. The two struggle to communicate with each other, and these scenes are particularly effective. Both have so much to say and no idea how to process these thoughts into words.

However, this is an issue that Ruby has outside of her home as well. She initially pushes everyone in her new town away, most especially the ever-friendly Ahmad, a Syrian refugee in her class. Her shyness stands in the way of her brilliant insight, and these moments are painfully poignant. Although Ahmad (and a small cast of secondary characters) provide her willing support, Ruby must find her own path through her barriers. Zulick Ferruolo writes with such honesty and clarity that it’s painful when she fails, but so rewarding when she finds her own success.

This book does use the fairly popular trope of the reclusive neighbor, but it’s mined with such depth that it feels entirely fresh. With a lesser writer, it might be flat, but Zulick Ferruolo has completely realized Abigail as a real person. By no means is she utilized as a prop. Not only does Abigail provide Ruby help on her journey, but she experiences growth herself by maneuvering through her secrets. The scenes with her are some of the largest highlights of this book.

For a book where many of the characters have issues with communication, it’s amazing that Zulick Ferruolo tapped into such a brilliant voice. Ruby reads like a friend— someone the reader really gets to know on a personal level over a few hundred pages. She’s the heart of this truly remarkable novel.

Note: I received a free ARC of this book through NetGalley.

Review also posted at https://pluckedfromthestacks.wordpres...
2 reviews
May 30, 2018
I was fortunate to first geta chance to read this manucript due to my involvement in PitchWars. I fell in love with Ruby and her friends and family on first read. Ruby Moon Haye's life has turned upside down. A recent move and a mom who chose to speak out drove her to silence. She encounters her new world with open ears and open eyes, still making new friends and facing plenty of challenges. The characters reveal the rich fabric of complexity in small towns, quietly highlighting issues of harassment, immigration, and socioeconomics. Ulimtately, though, it comes down to family and friends and how they bolster usThis is ultimately a story about finding your voice, finding yourself.

The story takes me back to my youth to powerful middle-grade novels that empowered me as a reader. Jeanne Zulick Ferrulo's writing is gorgeous, but not lofty. it sings. Ruby's journey feel realistic and her reactions consistent with her character development.

Teachers and librarians will find a multitute of reasons to recommend this book.
Profile Image for Jennifer Camiccia.
Author 3 books41 followers
June 4, 2018
I was honored to read an advanced reader copy of this wonderful story. The author weaved a compelling story of a girl who decided that staying quiet and fading into the background is the best way to get through life. Finding a 'forever home' is a dream that she doesn't really believe will ever happen. When she begins to make friends and connections in the face of an uncertain future the lessons she learns are powerful ones. I think this is such an important story on so many levels. One is acceptance of those who are different from us, another is to stand up for the truth, to be brave even when it's hard. I can't begin to say how much I loved this book. I found myself in tears at the touching ending and how Ruby discovers herself. Thank you, Jeanne Zulick Ferrulo, for taking me on this lovely journey with Ruby!!
Profile Image for Sam Taylor.
Author 1 book112 followers
April 23, 2019
I loved this book! The writing is beautiful and poignant and immediately pulled me in. Ruby is a wonderful young protagonist with a compelling voice and readers will find it easy to invest in her story. And the narrative as a whole is empowering, especially to anyone who feels that they don't fit into their surroundings and struggles to believe that they ever will. Young readers will love this, but there is plenty of depth here to appeal to older readers as well. This book made me FEEL, and for that, I love it and absolutely recommend.
Profile Image for Kip.
Author 15 books219 followers
June 5, 2018
Oh my goodness, this book! I cried several times while reading this emotional story about a girl finding home where she least expects it. The story simmers with rough, realistic elements: a tough family past, Ruby's painful shyness, and her path to rewarding yet unconventional friendships. I just loved everything about it (and love that it made me cry). Fans of Lynda Mullaly Hunt's work will love this book!
Profile Image for J.C..
Author 4 books73 followers
January 21, 2019
**I recieved a free copy of this book from the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.**

First Thoughts: I’m in between on how to rate this book. On one hand, it fit many middle grade book stereotypes perfectly, but on the other, it also broke free and made the stereotypes feel original. I wasn’t blown away by how it was written, but I definitely wasn’t disappointed. The characters felt fresh and new, and the story was fun; while fairly predictable, it was still enjoyable to read.


This book, like I said, felt very stereotypical a lot of the time. I’ve read this story many times—the only child living with a single parent, starts a new school, faced with a challenge at school, feels inadequate, makes new friends that show them they’re not, learns to have confidence and courage to defeat their fears and talk to their family. I’ve read this story so many times, but Ruby in the Sky made it feel more original than others I’ve read. Abigail Jacobs was such a different character, so much fun, and brought with her mystery and lessons that added depth to the story. I really liked Ruby—she didn’t feel as stereotypical—and think many middle schoolers will relate to her. Her relationship with her mom was gentle and sweet.

I absolutely LOVED the theme of learning to speak up for yourself—not just in Ruby, but in the whole situation with her mom. That whole storyline—keeping details vague so not to spoil it—added so much more depth than you usually see in middle grade books, and I completely loved it. It was such an important theme, yet delivered so gently. Paired with Ruby’s arc, it created a beautiful theme that I think will really speak to readers.


Generally, I didn’t have super strong feelings one way or another about the book. It was stocked full of beautiful themes of forgiveness, friendship, and speaking up for yourself. The plot and characters were pretty predictable, but I still enjoyed reading the story; additionally, the connections with the moon added a magical feel. I didn’t absolutely love it, but there wasn’t really anything I disliked, either.

Rating: 3.5 stars

Recommended to: Ages 8 & up
Profile Image for Darla.
3,357 reviews529 followers
January 23, 2019
The cover beautifully captures the spirit of the book. Ruby Moon Hayes has been recently relocated in Vermont and her mother is already in trouble with local law enforcement. Thus Ruby and their dog, Bob Van Doodle, find themselves taking walks in the countryside on their own. They stumble upon a neighbor who can feed chickadees from her hand. Ruby and Bob begin spending more time with "the bird lady" while mom fights for her rights in court. Meanwhile, the sixth grade is putting together a wax museum program. Shy Ruby struggles with participating, but with support from her new friend Ahmad and those around her she helps bring healing not just to her own household and the entire town. An inspiring portrait of standing up and helping others. Includes fascinating facts about Apollo 11 and features a real live moon rock. Highly recommended!

Thank you to Macmillan and NetGalley for a digital ARC of this new middle grade novel.
Profile Image for Lisa Ramée.
Author 7 books219 followers
June 29, 2018
I was swept away by this lovely book. It captures so perfectly the feelings of a frustrated, sad, angry, preteen. Ruby's sadness over the loss of her father and her inability to control what's going on in her life is spot on. As is her anger with her mother. I think so many readers will recognize themselves in Ruby; especially since it's an age where too many times you have to do what you're told instead of what you want. And Ruby's connection to Abigail, and watching that friendship build was so lovely. This book is perfect for our time too with all the insensitivity toward immigrants, and anyone who doesn't live exactly how we want them too. I think young readers will learn so much from Ruby: compassion, tolerance, and the importance of standing up for what's right.
Profile Image for La La.
995 reviews126 followers
December 16, 2019
*I had to delete this review/book and re-add it because Goodreads had it listed on my challenge page as only being one page. Hopefully this works. You can do better Goodreads!

First I was going to give this book four stars and 4.5 on my blog; then after thinking about it, I was going to rate it five stars and 4.5 on the blog, but... I decided to think a little more and have left it at a solid five stars. Yes, it's that good! If this isn't a Newbery contender, something is wrong and it should be.

I'll be back with more; I'm very tired right now and I don't want to write a full review for this wonderful book with a dull brain.

I have to add that this book made me cry and I almost never shed tears over books. (less)
Profile Image for Julia Nobel.
Author 2 books296 followers
June 7, 2018
I read an advanced copy of this book, and as soon as I was finished reading, I pre-ordered a copy to make sure it was part of my permanent collection. What really struck me about it was how genuine the relationships are, especially between Ruby and the two women in her life. The arguments she has with her mom made me feel like I was eavesdropping on a real conversation. I loved the setting, which reminded me of growing up in Northern winters. Ruby feels like a real person, someone who is trying to figure out how not to be governed by her fears and isn't even sure if she wants to be brave. I loved this book, and I highly recommend it.
Profile Image for Gail Shepherd.
Author 2 books85 followers
June 10, 2018
This gorgeous middle grade debut, which will publish in February 2019 by Jeanne Zulick Ferruolo (I read the ARC), deserves all the early praise it's already attracted. A lonely girl, Ruby, and her mother, running from a mysterious tragedy, arrive in a small Vermont town in the dead of winter--financially broke and emotionally broken. Ruby befriends an eccentric old neighbor, a woman the townspeople call "the bird lady" who has a tragedy in her own remarkable past, and slowly begins to earn the woman's trust, and to learn to trust herself. A Syrian refugee in her class, Ahmed, helps Ruby break out of her shell and find her voice. In the process Ruby learns to stand up for herself and for others.

This novel handles its themes so gracefully. Space exploration, the moon walk, the justice system, feminist themes, the natural world, care for and love of wild things, immigration, kindness, empathy, and creating a space for the truth, even a difficult truth, to thrive are all woven together seamlessly. Ruby's relationship with the aging Abigail, and her determination to bring her fascinating story to light, is especially poignant.
Profile Image for MaryBeth's Bookshelf.
379 reviews86 followers
February 11, 2019
"Even when you can't see it," he said, "courage can be found when you simply stand up."

Thank you to the author for gifting me a review copy of this beautiful debut novel. I absolutely loved this middle grade novel about friendship, perseverance, and acceptance.

Ruby has not had it easy. When her mom moves to Vermont, to the "perfect home" things are less than perfect. Ruby works hard at being invisible to the kids at school who are not accepting of new people. She forms friendships with a young Syrian refugee boy and the reclusive "Bird Lady" who helps her discover her confidence and she, in turn, helps a community face who they've become.

I adored this story. It's message is simple and yet so important today. Be kind. Don't judge. Help each other. I guarantee you will fall in love with Ruby Moon Hayes.
Profile Image for Joshua Levy.
Author 6 books81 followers
November 27, 2018
It was such a delight and privilege to read RUBY IN THE SKY. There’s so much loneliness in Ruby’s world. It’s in Ruby. Her mother. A new neighbor next door. New friends from far away. Everyone in search of a place to belong and feel at home. And through the connections Ruby makes—and through the power of her determination—she not only finds comfort for herself, but she helps others find it too. Set in a winter Vermont town, you can feel the cold and darkness of the days. But, most of all, you can feel the warmth and brightness. Of the moon, sure. But of Ruby most of all.
Profile Image for Esoke.
33 reviews
March 2, 2022
I think this book was great and I think it was worth reading I can sometimes relate to Ruby the main character she has trouble speaking to strangers and it was so brave for her to do that, I also understand how she feels when she has to move away from her home and all of her friends. I'm glad that everybody knows the truth about Abigail Jones.
Profile Image for Chris Baron.
Author 11 books122 followers
August 28, 2018
I had the privilege of reading Ruby in the Sky by Jean Zulick Ferruolo as an ARC. Let me start by saying these two things. 1) When I finished the book, I hugged it. I know it might sound silly, but this book pulled me right in, and I lived in the space of the book all through reading. It came together in such a way that hugging was my only reaction. 2) My daughter (10) on several occasions tried to steal the story away from me. Certainly this is high enough praise, but I need to say a few more things. The story is eloquently written with such beautiful precision and attention to detail that I felt so connected to the main character even as the story became more complex. Rich with powerful themes like friendship, relational healing, courage, family, and searching for a “forever home,” are perfectly woven into the story. Ruby does the best she can in the complicated and difficult, “real-life” situations she finds herself in.
The story reads like a classic- where the main character grapples with very real and difficult challenges in family and setting but with the hope and raw and imperfect courage of a young girl determined to make her way. Written beautifully, I can’t wait to share this heartwarming story with all my kids.
Profile Image for Melanie Dulaney.
1,376 reviews67 followers
July 9, 2019
Readers of Joan Bauer, Barbara O'Connor and Lisa Graff need to run to their library or bookstore and dive into "Ruby in the Sky!" While the basic plot line of a parent and child searching for a place to call home after experiencing loss is not unique, the characters that support Ruby as she tries to find a new normal and stops trying to disappear behind her hair are definitely not a rehash of any other middle grade sad-happy heart-warmer that I have read. Highly recommended for those in grades 5-8 and if the length is not an obstacle, those in younger grades as well. Librarians and care-givers will appreciate that the realties of immigration, loss, and the criminal justice system described in this novel are appropriate for younger readers, but not so juvenile in delivery that those in junior high will be uninterested. No profanity, sexual content, or violence present.
Profile Image for Katie Reilley.
781 reviews26 followers
August 25, 2018
Thanks to author Jeanne Zulick Ferruolo and Farrar Straus Giroux, I was able to read an advanced copy through my #BookExpedition group.

I love Ruby Moon Hayes and can’t wait for middle grade readers to get to know her. Something has happened in Ruby’s life, causing her mom and her to move quite a bit. When the latest move brings them to snowy, cold Vermont, Ruby decides to stay as quiet as she can to remain invisible.

Befriended by a classmate who’s a Syrian refugee and a reclusive woman living near her known as the “bird lady,” Ruby learns to find her voice through friendships, acceptance and courage.

Coming in February ‘19, I highly recommend for middle grade readers!
Profile Image for Katlyn Duncan.
Author 22 books341 followers
February 7, 2019
RUBY IN THE SKY by Jeanne Zulick Ferruolo was a heartwarming story of loss, love, and redemption. I fell in love with Ruby and her new life in Vermont. Initially, I thought I had most of the characters figured out, but Ferruolo altered my view by the end of the book as secrets and hidden pasts were revealed. Lessons about standing up for others and finding your "forever home" were prominent in this novel along with the eclectic cast of characters strong enough to reach out of the pages and grab you.
44 reviews3 followers
June 21, 2018
I was lucky to get an advanced reader copy and fell in love immediately. At its heart, this book is about learning how to use your voice--not just for yourself but for others. It features a diverse cast of characters, including Syrian refugees and a homeless woman. Ferruolo has a knack for compelling, descriptive language, and her protagonist, Ruby, feels real and sincere. This was a great read and I highly recommend it!
Profile Image for Lacee.
34 reviews2 followers
June 25, 2018
This book is all about relationships, and none of them are easy. The characters all struggle, especially Ruby, who is quiet and has trouble communicating. I enjoyed watching them grow and share their lives. Ruby finding her voice was a beautiful moment and worth reading several times!
73 reviews
June 25, 2022
I was skeptical about this book, but WHOA. This was a great story. If you have a kid that loses their voice when they are upset, or won't talk at all, this story is for you. If you've ever been misunderstood or had a rumor told about you, this is for you. If you live in a small town, or have dealt with people that are about looks instead of people, this is for you. If you've ever fought with your mom, lost a parent, made a new friend, been left out, or had to learn how to stand up for your self, this book is for you. I don't know that the cover will grab kids' attention, but the story sure will. It pulls you in. You will enjoy this book.
Profile Image for Lia (Taylor's Version).
191 reviews34 followers
July 16, 2022
So fricking much

I dont even know what to say, this book made me feel so happy and warm and cozy (Just like all her books do)
I felt magical after this, I dont know how to describe it. I finally read all her books and unfortunately I have to wait for her next one, but I am so excited for it!

Ruby was really relatable and Ahmad was so sweet and I loved the story about her mom with the trial and everything.

This is either my second, or my favorite book by this author (I cant pick)

I loved this so much. It feels like a warm hug.
Thank you Jeanne, this was amazing.
Profile Image for Barbara.
13.1k reviews271 followers
March 26, 2019
Fortin, Vermont is hardly the paradise for which twelve-year-old Ruby Moon Hayes and her mother Dahlia have been looking. After the death of her police officer father, the two have been visiting various places the family vacationed, looking for closure. But each time they start to settle in, Ruby's mother becomes restless and heads somewhere else. At the behest of Cecy, her mother's older cousin, they come to the end of the line in Fortin where Dahlia grew up. Ruby hates the place, and all she wants is to return to Washington, DC, where she thinks life will go back to how it was when her father was alive. Dahlia is pretty outspoken and has an unpleasant encounter with her new boss. While the court case is being prepared, Ruby attends school reluctantly, eventually becoming friends with Ahmad Saleen, a refugee from Syria, and Abigail Jacobs, a reclusive woman who lives in the shed near her house and prefers spending time with birds to being near humans. Both Ahmad and Abigail have secrets in their past, and both are judged by others in the town. As it turns out, Abigail has had a tragic past with huge losses, but she also was once involved in writing computer programming for the Apollo 11 moon mission. While I don't know that Abigail would have been so quick to befriend Ruby or to overcome her fears in order to attend a public event that matters to Ruby, I was glad to see that happen. Young readers will relate to Ruby's feelings about school, speaking in public, and how strongly she is attached to her dog, Bob Van Doodle, even while not always keeping a close eye on him. Readers will universally regard Dakota Eton as not the kindness of classmates, and I'm sure they know someone just like her. If nothing else, this book will remind readers not to judge others by what is said about them or from first impressions. In the end, everyone has a story much more complex than meets the eye, and running away from problems never solves them.
Profile Image for Laurie.
864 reviews
January 19, 2019
Interest Level: 3-6

Imagine that your mom moves you around from place to place to place and each one is going to be your "forever home". Ruby wants her forever home to be back in the home where she last shared with her dad, but her mom has brought Ruby back to her own home town. She once again promises Ruby that this will be their forever home but within a week of being there her mom gets arrested and things are not looking good. Ruby knows there is no point in making friends because they will not be there for long, however she didn't expect to meet Abigail. Abigail is the old, crazy lady that lives in the shed next to her house and feeds the birds. Rumor around town is that she killed her husband and daughter many years ago. Ruby sees a different side of her but she can't deal with it because she has her own problems. She is trying to avoid a huge biography project since she knows that they will be moving soon and won't be there to present it. Her teacher, Mr. Andrews, and the kid trying to be her friend, Ahmad, think otherwise. Will this home actually be their forever home? Will Ruby expose Abigail for who she truly is or will Abigail's pain be more than she can bear? What happens with Ruby's mom's arrest and will she ever take Ruby back to the only home that she knew? Read this incredible book to find out what happens with Ruby and those around her!

Ruby in the Sky is a phenomenal book about love, loss, friendship, and overcoming when all the odds are against you. Ruby shows us all that even though we may be lonely and in pain ourselves, there can be others that need our help. No matter what kind of walls we put up around ourselves, those walls can be broken down for a new beginning. This book has such an amazing message and does not need to be missed!!!
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Profile Image for Sam.
2,095 reviews32 followers
February 2, 2019
Huge thank you to Raincoast for this ARC!

Holy cow, this book is a punch in the feelings. Jeanne Zulick Ferruolo's debut novel Ruby in the Sky is an amazing achievement in middle grade, as its a story that has so many layers in it, and each is done flawlessly.

This is the story of Ruby, a young girl who has had it rough and struggles to now find her voice. Her father is out of the picture, her mother has moved her to a new city in hopes for them to have a better life, until a situation at her job forces her into the court system. On top of being at a new school, Ruby is immediately ostracized by the female students in her class for being "weird" and she makes a wonderful friendship with a new Syrian immigrant named, Ahmed. On top of making friends with the town "Bird Lady," Ruby's journey of self-discovery is truly something special to read about.

Ruby in the Sky is one of those books where I was engaged from the first page. Ruby is a difficult character in that she doesn't allow herself to truly be known by the reader. She provides bits of information as the story goes on, building to a larger picture. She has amazing growth in this story, something that had such a spark when I read this book. I loved her friendship with Ahmed, and when it fell on hard times, I was rooting for both of them to find each other again.

I loved this book so much. I cried, it left me thinking about the kinds of challenges that children face, and the way in which we as adults may not be as empathetic as we should. Ruby is a wonderful heroine and her story is one I know I won't forget for a very long time.
Profile Image for Liz.
26 reviews17 followers
February 23, 2019
What a satisfying page turner of a book! Ruby and her mom move back to her mom’s hometown for a new start. It quickly becomes apparent that geographical cures don’t work when mom finds herself in legal trouble almost right away. The court case means that Ruby is stuck having to navigate school, social situations, the absence of her father, and the uncertainty of their future alone. Enter Abigail, the town outcast bird lady that lives nearby, and Ahmad, the Syrian boy who hasn’t connected with the other students. How these two unexpectedly alter Ruby’s outlook and courage is a beautiful story to see unfold. This story has quite a few takeaways about countering quick judgements, finding your voice, belonging, standing up for yourself, and standing up for those who can’t. A timely and heartfelt story.💗 I also love the cover art (by Rich Deas) and ruby foil- stamped spine lettering!
Profile Image for Dana Fontaine.
614 reviews21 followers
January 6, 2020
**Thank you for the free copy, Netgalley**
4.5 stars. There were some plot holes that seemed rushed to find answers at the end. However, this book drew me in from the beginning. I dropped all the other books that I was reading and finished this book in a day. I loved the characters. The author definitely made me feel something while reading this book. I felt despair when her mother was accused of a crime. I was also frustrated with the small town and narrow minds that were evident throughout the book.
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