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Book Review: Ruby & Olivia by Rachel Hawkins



Publisher’s summary:

A contemporary story with a twinkle of magic, RUBY AND OLIVIA is a pacey, gently creepy book filled with lovable characters and snappy humor. At its core, this is the story of two girls who are not friends learning that they might have more in common than they ever expected – even if it takes the magic and mystery of a rumored-to-be haunted mansion to bring them together.
Ruby is bold and opinionated, while Olivia has always been respectful and well behaved. They don’t get along at all, but they share a best friend – Olivia’s twin sister, Emma. Olivia’s good-girl image is tarnished when she takes the fall for one of Emma’s misdeeds. And now Olivia is stuck with Ruby all summer – at a community service day camp for troublemakers. To kick off the spirit of service, the campers are tasked with cataloging the contents of an abandoned mansion called Live Oaks. Sorting through objects in an old house sounds boring, and working with each other is the last thing the girls want to do, but the stuff is actually kind of cool – there’s everything from mink stoles to golf clubs to stuffed deer heads.
However, it isn’t long until little tricks – like wash water turning freezing cold and doors slamming and shadows rising – start to spook the girls. They’d like to think the other campers are pranking them, but soon realize that this empty mansion might just be looking for new residents. To solve the mystery at Live Oaks, Ruby and Olivia will have to put their grudges aside and figure out how to be a team, with or without Emma.
While Rachel’s haunted house will give readers a thrill, the real treat is being enveloped in her warm and inviting world – full of family, friendship, and the ups-and-downs of growing up. The girls’ story is told with all the heart, humor, and authenticity that make Rachel Hawkins a favorite with kids, parents, and teachers alike
9780399169618My thoughts:
As the publisher describes, this is a mildly creepy ghost story, but its real strength is in being a delightful examination of the ins and outs of becoming friends in the tween years. Olivia’s identical twin, Emma, began trying to assert her independence about a year before the beginning of the novel when she asked for separate bedrooms. Since then she has gone on to reinvent herself several times, each time trying out a new set of friends. Ruby is one of her previous friends whom she has left behind. While the story alternates between Ruby & Olivia, and Ruby’s perspective is enlightening and humorous, this is really Olivia’s story. She is so hurt and bewildered by her sister’s behavior – and this is so common among girls of this age. She has been left behind by her best friend and doesn’t know who she is on her own. This is the story of her coming to terms with who she is as an individual as well as the story of her learning to make friends on her own, rather than as part of a pair. The beauty of it is both in its realistic dealings with the issues of friendship in the tween years combined with the warmth and hopefulness of the way it is told. I would highly recommend this for any tween who is struggling with friendship issues. It will show them that they are not alone and that there is a way forward.
photo_Rachel_HawkinsAbout the author:
Rachel Hawkins is the author of Journey’s End, the Rebel Belle series, and the New York Times bestselling Hex Hall series. Born in Virginia and raised in Alabama, Rachel taught high school English before becoming a full-time writer.

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