Ruby on the Outside

Ruby on the Outside - Nora Raleigh Baskin

Ruby lives with Matoo for Ruby’s mother lives a short distance away and she visits her every Saturday afternoon. Waiting in line, emptying her pockets and sitting in the assigned seats, this has become a routine in her life, a routine that Ruby has kept hidden from everyone around her. Ruby is embarrassed to admit her mother is in prison and calling her aunt Matoo helps cover up the fact that she does not live with her mother. Ruby vaguely remembers her mother without her green attire but it’s the visits that she remembers, these weekly visits over the years. As a small child, she remembers waiting each week to see her mother with the expectation that mother would be departing with them, leaving the correction center behind. Only Ruby was disappointed as they drove away as her mother had years left on her sentence. Now, Ruby is ready for middle school and she still is uncomfortable with her mother’s situation. Her fear of the truth has isolated her and I found it sad that after all this time, no one has spoken to her about her mother. I realize she was young but they had to realize she had questions. Her world had changed and her situation was different from other kids her age, so why didn’t anyone talk to her? I felt sorry for her; someone should have at least opened the door for her so she could at least posed questions to someone.


Kristin and Ruby live a group of condos and summer camp is beginning. Kristin was a friend, they went to the same school but they were not that close. They notice Margalit, a new girl hanging out by the pool, looking confident and enjoying herself. Kristin is headed off for the summer leaving Ruby to wonder if perhaps Margalit might be someone she could become friends with. I loved Margalit’s personality and her energy.   She was the perfect person to walk into Ruby’s life and Ruby was a great light for Margalit. As the girls share their past, the story gets intense and emotions get heated.   Its funny how life is, you think you have troubles when in reality everyone has bumps in their road. The novel provides great messages and I see mature and change. Ruby sees that consequences aren’t always fair but its part of life and you have to deal with it and move forward. I really loved the message about being a bystander. We preach this message a lot at school.   Being a bystander means that you are not the one committing the crime or the offense but that you are there watching it being committed and you are doing nothing about stopping it. You have a choice as a bystander, you can stop it or you can watch it, it is your choice. Watching it, you are just as guilty as the person doing the crime or the offense because you did nothing to stop it. Therefore, you need to take responsibility for your action. I really thought was a powerful message in this novel. I liked that the author took on the issue of having a parent in prison, I applaud her for doing this. I really think this would make a great read aloud for upper elementary grades.