RUBY IN THE SKY
Ruby Moon Hayes (12) is as silent and invisible as a new moon in the frozen Vermont sky. She doesn’t want kids at her new school to ask about her past or discover that her outspoken mother has been arrested. But disappearing isn’t easy when her teacher won’t excuse her from the Wax Museum pageant and Ahmed Abadi, an enthusiastic Syrian refugee, decides he’s her new best friend.
Then Ruby meets the “Bird Lady,” an elderly recluse who lives in a ramshackle shed outside the mysterious home she has sealed from the world. There is more to the Bird Lady’s story than people know — as there is to Mom’s and Ruby’s. As Mom’s trial draws near, and prison becomes a reality, Ruby must 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.
Ruby in the Sky has won the SCBWI Work-in-progress Award for Middle Grade Fiction (2016), the PEN-New England, Susan Bloom Discovery Award (2016), the Tassy Walden, New Voices in Children’s Literature Award (2015), and the Ruth Landers Glass Scholarship at the spring NE-SCBWI annual conference (2016). It will be published by Farrar, Straus & Giroux/Macmillan in Winter 2019.
READ CHAPTER ONE OF RUBY IN THE SKY
THE STORY BEHIND THE STORY — BOOKS & RESOURCES RELIED ON IN WRITING RUBY IN THE SKY
THE METAMORPHOSIS OF PETRA CZECH
The year is 1989 and twelve-year old Petra dreams of having a real family, one that doesn’t consist of the group of crusty, old, Czech immigrants who gather daily in Uncle Vojtech’s barbershop to relive the past. So, when Petra finds a mysterious address written on the back of a cryptic message about “diamonds and cut glass,” inside the marionette her mother gave her before she died, she sends a letter to that address in Czechoslovakia. But, unbeknownst to Petra, this action has set in motion a series of events that will change the course of history and transport her to a world vastly different from her sheltered life above Vojtech’s barbershop.
Now, on the Communists’ radar, Petra is led to believe that everything Vojtech has told her about her family and her identity is a lie. For the first time, she hears stories that her mother, who died in prison, a traitor to the Czech government, kidnapped Petra when she was four years old and sent her to the U.S. without her father’s knowledge. Her father, Zdenek Vyborny, insists he has been searching for her all these years. Believing she will finally find the family she has dreamed of and the home where she truly belongs, she returns to her estranged homeland.
But Prague, is not what she thought it would be. Petra’s father, an interpreter for the Communist government, has much business to attend to and abandons her to his assistant, “John Lennon,” a Romani boy, who wears pink sunglasses and has his own plan for escape. As Petra tries to decide whether she can trust John Lennon, or even her father, her dream of belonging to a real family slowly begins to unravel.
But Petra’s father isn’t the only person who has been looking for her. The Secret Police have a great interest in finding a pair of blue diamonds that went missing from Prague around the same time Petra did and she feels their watchful eyes everywhere.
Then Petra’s father suddenly disappears, and she is left to depend on John Lennon. As the two search for her family, Petra begins to uncover the truth about her parents. Now, for the first time on her own, she must learn to distinguish the difference between what is real and what is pretend – what is diamond and what is cut glass. Only then, can she find her way home.