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Thirteen Doorways, Wolves Behind Them All

When I found out Laura Ruby had a new YA book coming out in 2019, I immediately pre-ordered it. My love for Bone Gap knows no bounds, and I was looking forward to this new book with great anticipation. I went into expecting to love the writing, but I was a little wary of one part of the premise. Even after a third of the way through, I wasn't expecting to love this wholeheartedly. But reader, I do.

Doors can be dangerous. you never know what's on the other side, what you're letting in....

In stories, girls are always opening doors, always the wrong ones. Always crossing thresholds thinking they're getting away free. Nothing is free...

It doesn't matter which door you open...Three or ten or thirteen doorways, there are wolves behind them all.

I'm going to do something I don't typically do and just use the publisher's synopsis for this one to avoid all any accidental spoilers:

The unforgettable story of two young women—one living, one dead—dealing with loss, desire, and the fragility of the American dream during WWII.

When Frankie’s mother died and her father left her and her siblings at an orphanage in Chicago, it was supposed to be only temporary—just long enough for him to get back on his feet and be able to provide for them once again. That’s why Frankie's not prepared for the day that he arrives for his weekend visit with a new woman on his arm and out-of-state train tickets in his pocket.

Now Frankie and her sister, Toni, are abandoned alongside so many other orphans—two young, unwanted women doing everything they can to survive.

And as the embers of the Great Depression are kindled into the fires of World War II, and the shadows of injustice, poverty, and death walk the streets in broad daylight, it will be up to Frankie to find something worth holding on to in the ruins of this shattered America—every minute of every day spent wondering if the life she's able to carve out will be enough.

I will admit I do not know the answer. But I will be watching, waiting to find out. 

That’s what ghosts do. 


This book pulls you in from page one. I am often not a fan of books with ghosts for theological reasons; however, every once in a while, one will come along that allows me to set that part aside for the purposes of viewing the story for what it is through a different worldview. The ghost narrator of this novel had me from that first page. Her narration is pitch perfect. The tale she tells takes a twisted path. The ghost, Pearl, is interested in Frankie and tells the story of her life, but in doing so she also tells her own story and the story of the other girls both come in contact with. In doing so, we get a tale of girls who are survivors though the way they survive and thrive varies from story to story. At its core, this is a book about girls trying to thrive in a system that tries to squash them at every turn. In the Author's Note, Ruby talks about how this is her mother-in-law's story and much of it is based on her life. She goes on to say, "But it is also a story about girls. Girls with ambitions, brains, desires, talents, hungers. It is a story about how the world likes to punish girls for their appetites, even for their love." And this is what resonated in me through every page. As girls, we're told we are made to love and nurture, yet, when we attempt to do that on our own terms, we are often punished for it. The girls in this story are brave in their various ways and reading their stories is a journey everyone should take. 

It addition to how well the themes are handled, the historical setting is also done very well especially considering the scope of it. The descriptions of Chicago and Lake Michigan are gritty and wonderful at the same time, fully immersing the reader in the time and place of the novel. 

I highly recommend this to anyone looking for a powerful story about women and their struggles, good historical fiction, or twisty tales. 

Comments

I didn't really like Bone Gap, but I am still intrigued by this one. Glad you enjoyed it as well!
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