The Beat on Ruby's Street by Jenna Zark
Published Year: 2013
Genre: Historical Fiction
Subtitle: Good (3.5 stars)
The last thing eleven-year-old Ruby Tabeata expected to happen on her way to a Jack Kerouac reading was to be hauled to the police station.
It’s 1958 and Ruby is the opposite of a 1950s stereotype: fierce, funny and strong willed, she is only just starting to chart her course in a family of Beat Generation artists in Greenwich Village.
Ruby dreams of meeting famous poets while becoming one herself; instead, she’s accused of trying to steal fruit from a local vendor and is forced to live in a children’s home. As Ruby struggles to return to family and friends, she learns her only choice is to follow her heart.
This quick read was not at all what I was expecting. It's an up and down journey through a turbulent point of little Ruby's life. And while she felt and sounded so much older than 12, she would also constantly do things that would shove her innocence in your face. For example, her reaction to the situation with her dad, her constant worry over her cat Solange, etc.
But, what was really fascinating to me personally was this new insight into "the Beat Generation". The Beat Generation was primarily prominent in the 1950s and that's where our story takes place as well. Sure, I've heard of some of the Beat poets, i.e. primarily Jack Kerouac, but I certainly didn't know he was a Beat poet or what that meant. I think JZ did a great job with this landscape and definitely opened my eyes to something I had never explored before!
I think JZ tackles a lot of issues in this short book, and does them well with her time frame, but I would have appreciated more minor character development and there are certain scenarios that don't quite seem plausible to me. Maybe I'm not familiar enough with this culture in this historic decade, but some of Ruby's actions seemed a little too farfetched -- entertaining, sure, but unrealistic!
3.5 out of 5 stars.
A copy of this book was provided to me in exchange for an honest review.