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Ruby Among Us [NOOK Book]

Overview

Lucy DiCamillo is safely surrounded by her books, music, and art–but none of these reclusive comforts or even the protective efforts of her grandmother, Kitty, can shield her thoughts from the mother she can barely recall. Lucy senses her grandmother holds the key, but Kitty seems as eager to hide the past as Lucy is eager to find it.

From the streets of San Francisco and ...
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Ruby Among Us

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Overview

Lucy DiCamillo is safely surrounded by her books, music, and art–but none of these reclusive comforts or even the protective efforts of her grandmother, Kitty, can shield her thoughts from the mother she can barely recall. Lucy senses her grandmother holds the key, but Kitty seems as eager to hide the past as Lucy is eager to find it.

From the streets of San Francisco and Sacramento to the lush vineyards of the Sonoma Valley, Lucy follows the thread of memory in search of a heritage that seems long-buried with her mother, Ruby.

What she finds is as enigmatic and stirring as it is startling in this redemptive tale about the power of faith and mother-daughter love.


From the Trade Paperback edition.
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Forkner's debut novel about family secrets never quite gets off the ground. When Ruby DiCamillo dies unexpectedly from asthma, her eight-year-old daughter Lucy blames herself for not reaching her mother's inhaler in time. As she grows into a young woman, her grandmother Kitty overprotects her, filling her life with art, music and schoolwork but leaving wide gaps in her knowledge of family history. When Lucy insists on learning about her heritage, the secrets are as complicated as her grandmother's intricate quilts. Fortner struggles with creating successful flashbacks, and the pacing drags. In several places the plot takes a contrived twist (a photo conveniently falling out of an album, a chance meeting in a coffee shop) in order to move forward. Most difficult to believe is that the key tragedy that has shaped the family's history has kept Lucy's grandmother estranged from her family for so long. However, Fortner creates some memorable descriptions, and readers of faith should appreciate the strong Christian themes of this novel and its redemptive ending.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
From the Publisher
“In this memorable debut novel, the characters are well written and interesting…Readers will not want this story to end.” - Awarded 4 1/2 Stars - Romantic Times Book Reviews

“Ms. Forkner has given us a gift that like fine music rises at an ever-spiraling pace. Neither rushed nor delayed, Ruby Among Us offers a satisfying journey I will long remember.”
Jane Kirkpatrick, award-winning author of A Mending at the Edge

“Highly recommended. If you’re a mother or daughter, you’re going to love Ruby Among Us. Forkner does an extraordinary job…. I look forward to more from this author.”
–Ane Mulligan, Novel Journey

“A multi-generational saga of hope, regret, and the grace that brings us home, Ruby Among Us evokes an invitational sense of place, a cache of characters you enjoy knowing, and a story that rips and mends your heart all at once.”
Mary E. DeMuth, author of Watching the Tree Limbs and Wishing on Dandelions

“So engaging from the first sentence. I found myself holding my breath as I read. Tina has painted the pictures so real. I love the honesty and innocence. Mothers and daughters alike will feel very connected with this book.”
Cindy Morgan Brouwer, singer/songwriter

“Don’t miss this one! Tina Ann Forkner is a strong new voice in fiction and Ruby Among Us is an amazing story of trials, regrets, and, ultimately, redemption. Lucy and her family history in the historic wine country of Sonoma bring to life the Scriptures about the Vine and His branches.”
Kristin Billerbeck, author of The Trophy Wives Club

Ruby Among Us is a haunting, beautifully-told novel of past secrets and present pain. Lovely, lovely voice and story. A remarkable debut by Tina Ann Forkner, an author to watch.”
Colleen Coble, author of Anathema

“A subtle, intimate story of grace and redemption that touches the heart!”
Pamela Nowak, author of the historical romance Chances

“Forkner writes from a place of intimate transparency, allowing the reader to discover priceless treasures found in the pursuit of truth. Ruby’s story unfolds in fascinating layers, revealing at its core the universal power of a mother-daughter relationship.”
Bonnie Keen, speaker, vocalist, and author of A Ladder Out of Depression

“Reading is a passion of mine, and when I find myself identifying with the characters, anxious to get to the next page to find answers to my questions, I know I’m into a good book! The daughter-mother-grandmother theme in Ruby Among Us pulled me in. Wonderful story-telling.”
Jordin Sparks, 2007 winner of American Idol

“If you’re a fan of fiction that inflames your heart and your spirit, Tina Ann Forkner has a debut novel you should read. Ruby Among Us is filled with powerful emotions of secrets, joy, grief, the freedom that is found in the truth, and, ultimately, in redeeming love.”
Kim Hill, worship leader and recording artist

“What an incredible story. As both mothers and daughters, Ruby Among Us struck a special cord in each of the four of us. Tina writes in a way that makes us feel like we’re there; from the first line, we were captivated and drawn into an intricate weaving of the precious and fragile relationships that define us.”
Point of Grace

“A skillfully written, moving tale of women (and their men) who find that love covers a multitude of sins. Tina Ann Forkner weaves this story together with great detail and, like the quilts that are such an integral part of the novel, pieces it together with beautiful results.”
Debbie Smith, songwriter with and wife of Michael W. Smith, and mother of their five children

“From the first page of this emotionally-gripping novel, I was absorbed in Lucy’s story. The author weaves a beautiful tapestry of meaning and grace, with an underlying truth: every heart needs a place to call ‘home.’ Lucy’s journey toward her place of belonging is poignantly told.”
Kim Vogel Sawyer, author of Blessings and My Heart Remembers

Ruby Among Us is an intriguing story of lost love, brokenness, and ultimately, restored relationships. It is one girl's search to unlock the secrets of her family's past that ultimately leads to redemption, hope, and new life.  This great read will truly touch your heart!”
Denise Jackson, best-selling author, It's All About Him

Ruby Among Us is a powerful story that will linger long after reading it. Forkner’s writing transported me to California’s vineyards and wove a fascinating saga of how secrets and decisions impact the lives of following generations-and how love can redeem.”
-Cindy Woodsmall, New York Times best-selling author of When the Morning Comes

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780307499059
  • Publisher: The Doubleday Religious Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 6/3/2009
  • Sold by: Random House
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 336
  • Sales rank: 863,503
  • File size: 2 MB

Meet the Author

Tina Ann Forkner lives in Wyoming with her husband and their three bright children. Tina is active in her community and serves on the Laramie County Library Foundation Board of Directors. Ruby Among Us is her first novel.


From the Trade Paperback edition.
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Read an Excerpt

Chapter One: How to Measure Grief

The first person to hold Ruby was the last person to let her go.

That was her mother, Kitty. I watched her kiss Ruby gently on the forehead while she was still connected to that big, noisy machine, though I already felt that Ruby wasn’t really there. She’d been asleep so long that day. They said it was a coma. I was on the other side of the window but could tell the moment her heart stopped. I saw a doctor turn off the machines I knew had kept her body breathing. I knew; Ruby was gone.

I watched through the glass as Kitty fixed on the monitor, a frightened look in her eyes, as if she hadn’t been aware her only daughter was dying. Her face contorted with pain, and she crumpled over Ruby’s body. Her shuddering seemed to shake the walls around me.

I wrenched away from the white-collared preacher and his wife and ran and ran toward that gleaming silver room. People called to me.

“Lucy. Stop. You can’t go in there. Children aren’t allowed.”

Big hands tried to grab me. But no one could stop me. Ruby was gone, her breath taken away when the respirator had been removed, and Kitty was alive and alone. She needed me.

I burst through the heavy door and threw myself toward Kitty’s slumped body. She turned to me in time to spread her arms wide. I fell into them, and she caught me and held me so tightly I thought I might stop breathing. I kind of hoped I would; I could have died at that moment, snug in Kitty’s arms. But after a little while she loosened her embrace, and I reflexively inhaled, an involuntary instinct of survival my eight-year-old body performed against my will. My lungs, now filled to near bursting, could no longer contain the sob that had been crawling from the well in my chest since earlier that day when I’d found Ruby lying on the back porch.

Ruby had been watering our flowers–a wild mix of cosmos, daisies, and tall wild varieties of blooms that attracted butterflies and hummingbirds to taste their sweetness. That afternoon she’d called for me to look at a hummingbird drinking from the hanging feeder beside the back door.

“Lucy! Come see! The hummingbirds are like little bees!”

She always told me when they came so we could watch and count them. The weekend before we’d seen ten at the feeder. “And mija? Please grab my inhaler too.” She said the part about the inhaler casually, almost like an afterthought.

“Coming, Ruby! I’m pouring the lemonade!”

I’d always called my mother and grandmother by their given names. I don’t know why Ruby or Kitty allowed it, but they did. I knew other children who had mothers and grandmothers with boring names, but not mine. Even my own name was picked by Ruby because she thought it was special: Maria Lucero
.

“Oh, my Lucy,” she explained. “Lucero means light.” And where a ruby is loud, red, and hard, she said, Lucero meant all that was bright and the very air I was to her. “You are my breath, my very life,” she would whisper in my ear, kissing the top of my head. I never imagined Ruby as hard and loud–the things she said her name meant–but instead as smooth and vibrant. Though I didn’t know how to tell her at the time, she was my light, and I wanted to be just like her.

Ruby. Kitty. The names rolled off my tongue like crayons on paper; I liked that. The day before, my red crayon had rolled off the table as I drew a picture of Ruby, my hand in hers, each of us with a blue flower tucked behind our ear. We dove to catch the crayon as it dropped to the floor and giggled at how it seemed late for some appointment under the couch where we couldn’t reach it.

“We will need help getting out that one, Lucy.” Ruby smiled and I knew someone would be over to help, a friend whose name I could never remember…

“Lucy!” Ruby called again from outside. “The hummingbirds are going away!” I heard a cough. “Do I need to come help you, mija?”

“No, Mommy! I’ll hurry!”

During special times, like before bed, I’d call her Mommy. Sometimes I called her Mommy Ruby, even if it sounded silly, because it was our secret name. She was Mommy and Ruby to me, and I could call her both.

I’d carried the glass pitcher toward the fridge, sloshing lemonade all over the floor, when I heard Ruby call me a third time. “Lucy, hurry!” she coughed, hard. “There are two now!” Ruby coughed again, more violently.

Hurry, I told myself. I grabbed our glasses and scrambled to the coffee table in search of Ruby’s inhaler. She usually left it there, but not this day. I thrust the glasses on the coffee table and rushed to look in the bathroom. Kitty was always nagging Ruby to keep her inhaler in the same place all the time, but Ruby was too busy.

Running from room to room, I searched until I finally found the inhaler on the nightstand beside Ruby’s bed. My breath came out in deep, short gasps as I rushed back to the coffee table for the lemonade glasses, this time careful not to spill the drinks.

When I reached the door, the hummingbirds were gone and the heavy glasses of lemonade crashed to the deck, covering the porch with sticky glass shards. Slivers of glass surrounded Ruby, glistening like jewels as she lay on the porch where she’d fallen.

My hands flew to my mouth to stop my scream. I needed to help Mommy Ruby. I knelt to wipe away the glass, but it cut both of us, spotting my hands and her arms with little dots of blood. I shook Ruby and she moaned.

“Wake up!”

I remembered the inhaler and frantically pawed to the edge of the porch where it had been flung, cutting my hands more on the glass shards.

“Breathe, Mommy Ruby! Breathe!”

But she couldn’t. I saw the panic in her widening eyes and tried to spray the inhalant in her mouth and nose. Her flailing began to stop as I tried to breathe into her with my mouth like I’d seen on TV, my own breath a weak whisper.

“Ruby…” I cried as loud as my cracking voice would allow.

“Help! Please, help!”

Nobody came. So I screamed, loud and piercing. Neighbors appeared. Someone pulled me off Ruby and handed me to someone else with a hard chest–someone who held me while my small fist bounced off him. I tried frantically to force myself down. Neighbors had circled round Ruby, and I was pulled away to the scream of an arriving ambulance.

In the emergency room, the flat red line on the machine blared in my ears and Kitty pressed her wet face against me as her tears mixed with mine. The nurses wheeled Ruby out, leaving Kitty and me standing in the hallway, very still. It was that quiet moment of death, when things move in slow motion, when strangers turn sadly away as they pass your family in the halls and the medical staff stares with hopeless expression at the floor.

I felt poised, panicky, and completely frozen in time all at once. I searched the hall. Cold floors, shiny metal, too-bright light hurting my eyes. Then it rose like an earthquake and rumbled out of me: a quiet broken noise followed by a clear, piercing cry.

“Ruby! Mommy Ruby!”

I tore down the hall. The nurses who were rolling away her bed froze on the spot, staring as if I’d turned into a monster. One nurse tried to keep me from tearing the sheet from Ruby’s face until a doctor stopped and silenced her with a look.

“Let her say good-bye to her mommy,” he said quietly.

The other nurse turned to me with tears and helped me fold back the sheet. I put my hands on each side of her face. “Mommy Ruby, I love you.” I leaned over to kiss her lifeless lips and gave her a gentle hug, like I would have done when she was napping or when I was the first to wake up in the morning. Then I smoothed her hair and put my hands on her face like I’d done a million times when I tried to sweet-talk her.

“I’m sorry for not coming sooner with your medicine,” I whispered.

The nurse gently helped me cover Ruby’s face, and she was gone. I turned back slowly to find every person in the hallway sobbing and not one grownup to hold me. The abandonment terrified me. Where would I go without Ruby? Who would take care of me?
Would I be sent to an orphanage like in that movie Annie?

“Lucy!” Kitty moved from the back of the small crowd where she’d been standing, stunned by her own grief. “Lucy! Come here, baby. Come to Grandma Kitty.” I ran. Grandma Kitty wanted me, and I knew in her arms I would be safe.

No one questioned Kitty as she carried me out of the hospital, put me in her car, and drove me home–to Ruby’s house. How strange it was to come home without Ruby. Only the buzz of the fridge greeted us; immediately I had the urge to find Mommy Ruby even though I’d just felt her cooling skin on my lips back at the hospital. I ran around the house, calling her name, looking under the kitchen table where she used to take cover during games of hide-and-seek. Kitty hadn’t stopped me in my mission to find Ruby alive until I stood in the center of the living room crying, reaching out to touch the roses in the middle of the coffee table, as if they were Ruby herself, not loud and vibrant but soft and delicate.

Wordlessly Kitty reached for me, hugged me to her, and took me for a bath. I screamed when she doused my shampooed head with water. Ruby had always warned me before rinsing so I could hold my nose. Kitty didn’t even tell me the water was coming. I coughed and sputtered, lashing at her for being so mean, half expecting to be given choice words of punishment.

Instead Kitty pulled me out of the tub and wrapped my goosebumped limbs in a fluffy pink princess towel. I slipped into the Barbie gown she held up, and she tucked me into bed, saying it wasn’t my fault Ruby died. In my heart I didn’t really believe her.

Kitty had a way of looking at things that most people found strange. Ruby had always said so. Now Kitty said that since she was my Ruby’s mommy, I could be her daughter too. “A granddaughter is a kind of daughter.” She leaned down and kissed my nose, just as Ruby would have done, and turned out the light.

I felt only a short moment of panic that Kitty wanted to replace my Ruby, but I was too tired to argue about it. Kitty said good night; it was so much like Ruby that I knew Ruby had learned it from her–except for the prayer. I wanted our prayer that night, but Kitty didn’t know how to say it. With her eyes cast to the side of my pillow, she quietly offered to learn if I’d teach it to her, but I said no. It was my prayer and Mommy Ruby’s prayer anyway, I’d decided. I would never say it with anyone ever again. Not even Kitty.

The morning before Ruby’s funeral, Kitty found me in a big, old white chair on the back deck staring at the sunrise. There were no hummingbirds, just bright, empty sky. I pretended Ruby sat with me in the chair the way we’d sit together in the mornings before school. I imagined that my hands resting on the arms of the chair were interlaced with hers; if I closed my eyes long enough, I could feel her breath on my neck and her kisses–unending kisses–behind my ear, through my hair, at the nape of my neck as she whispered how much she loved me.

I had dressed in the yellow and orange floral print sundress Ruby had bought for my first day of school. I hadn’t worn it yet and wished Ruby was there to iron out the wrinkles still creasing it from the store racks. I knew grownups wore black to funerals, but I didn’t have anything black. Besides, Ruby had always said I looked pretty in bright colors. I smoothed the soft cotton dress over my knees and waited for Kitty to chide me.

“I should have known I’d find you here.” Kitty stepped onto the deck. “Ruby told me about your little morning teatimes together.”

I said nothing. It was true, but I didn’t want to share it with Kitty right then. I only wanted Ruby. Kitty extended a red floral teacup. I stared hard at the steaming cup for a few moments, trying to imagine Ruby’s hand giving it to me. But I couldn’t summon the vision. I took the cup without a word and sipped deeply. The tea tasted good, just how I liked it– not very hot, not very strong, with cream and sugar.

“You look beautiful, Lucy, just like Ruby.”

I looked up at Kitty and admired her long black muumuu dress with the rich red rose print. The roses blossomed over her heavy chest, down her trunk to the hem, enfolding in the seams and opening back up, the fabric flowing with her steps as she walked toward me. I couldn’t articulate the idea at eight years old but grasped clearly that this was Grandma Kitty’s way of rebelling against dreary mourning garb at her daughter’s funeral.

“Look at me, Lucy.”

I stared at the roses on the muumuu, unable to look in her eyes because then I’d see Ruby and the big hole in my chest would deepen and hurt even more. Kitty cupped my chin with her hands and turned my face to hers. I saw her red-rimmed eyes, teary pools in the center.
What happened to my strong, bossy Kitty? I wondered. This face was so forlorn and weak.

I was happy when Kitty barked again for me to look at her. The sternness in her voice made me feel more secure, like she was in control, taking care of me. She took me firmly by the shoulders. “It’s terrible, a terrible thing, you losing Ruby. I-I don’t know why.” She fumbled with words between sobs. “I don’t know why God did this to you–to us. I don’t.” She took a breath and fell silent, her carefully applied makeup now tear-streaked.

Tears streamed down my face too. Once, Ruby had said God was a friend to children. I wasn’t sure when she’d said it–so many memories had already begun to fade the day after her death–but if it were true, then why did he take her from me?

“Your mom,” Kitty was saying, “would defend God and say he always has a purpose.” She shook her head and stared at her hands, then away at the sky, as if she wasn’t really talking to me. “I don’t know what God was thinking.” Her eyes followed the sunrise as we sat quietly. “How could you do this?” she asked the sky. Something brought her attention back to me. “Oh, Lucy, you’re shaking.”

“I’m sorry, Kitty.”

“You haven’t done anything to be sorry for, dear.” She reached to me with a lace-edged embroidered handkerchief. I worried about soiling the pretty fabric with my tears, but Kitty dabbed at my face like she didn’t care. “You’re just a little girl and can’t understand such things. All this talk about God and his not being here for us must be confusing.”

But I understood more than Kitty knew. I’d already begun tucking away most of the memories of my mother; I felt my faith being hidden away too. Later I’d wonder if I was tucking away my faith to protect it or to get rid of it.

But then all I knew was that Kitty didn’t think God was there for us, and I felt the heaviness of that drop over me, a blanket of fear and confusion. Even as I followed Kitty’s emotional leading, I thought of Ruby, and at that very moment I felt like a bad girl doing something I was sure my mom told me to never do…because secretly I still believed in heaven. Ruby was there. And if there was heaven, wasn’t there God? Ruby had told me so, hadn’t she?

I reached from my confusion toward Kitty, wanting to make her feel better and hoping she could make me feel okay too. She was so sad for Ruby; I was so sorrowful for Kitty. We both loved Ruby and we’d both lost her. And then Kitty told me a granddaughter is a kind of daughter, and I was hers.

I looked over at Kitty, who was staring up at the hummingbird feeder. A jeweled green bird had appeared, flitting around us like a bumblebee. I wondered if it noticed that Ruby was gone, if it had watched the whole thing, witnessing how slow I had been that day.

I balanced my teacup on my knees and watched the hummingbird dart around us. It paused near my shoulder, its wings buzzing, as if studying the splashes of color on my dress. Was he accusing me? I glanced at Kitty again, but she said nothing, as if it was an expected thing to have a hummingbird fly right up to me on the day of my Ruby’s funeral. Her eyes followed the hummingbird as it darted away, staring long after it had disappeared.

My cup rattled, causing Kitty to finally turn her head slowly toward me, and the hollowness of her eyes, so lost and sad, engulfed me. I knew that I somehow should have found Ruby’s inhaler faster, but I didn’t know Ruby could die. Now I had not only hurt my Ruby, but I’d hurt my Kitty too. The doubt seeded in my mind started to grow, its roots already reaching deep. What if God was mad at me for not getting help to Ruby in time? What if he had already forgotten about us?

What if Kitty didn’t have anyone but me? Kitty leaned toward me then and took one of my small hands in hers, careful not to upset the teacup in my lap, her red wooden bracelets softly clunking with the movement. We didn’t talk anymore before the funeral, just sat holding hands and looking out over Ruby’s garden. I knew one thing only then. Kitty wasn’t Ruby, but she would take care of me.

A grandmother was a kind of mother too.


From the Trade Paperback edition.
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Reading Group Guide

1. Chapter 1 begins, “The first person to hold Ruby was the last person to let her go. That was her mother, Kitty.” What do you think Lucy meant by this statement?

2. Lucy, by no choice of her own, has never lived in a traditional family, but she has been sheltered first by Ruby and then by Kitty. Do you think Lucy calling her mother and grandmother by their first names indicates a healthy adaptation of family for her? a confused sense of family? What is the relationship of Lucy to her mother, Ruby? to her grandmother, Kitty? How are these different or the same?

3. What is the significance of the names Lucy and Ruby– in general and specifically to each of them?

4. What do you think of Kitty’s question upon Ruby’s death? How can God allow terrible things to happen? Why doesn’t he protect children from horrible things?

5. What questions and issues does Lucy tuck away when Ruby dies? Do you think Kitty’s efforts to keep so many secrets were to shield Lucy from pain or to protect herself? Were her intentions noble or selfish?

6. Could Lucy have become whole without learning the truth about Ruby? about Kitty? Why or why not? Did Kitty ever become whole?

7. Each woman in the novel has artistic talents and interests– piano, art, quilting, literature. What parallels do you see between Lucy’s artistic pursuits and those of Ruby and Kitty? And what parallels do you see in other aspects of the story?

8. Why do you think Lucy and Kitty keep so many of Ruby’s things?

9. How might the references to air and breath and to Ruby’s and Lucy’s asthma inhalers be symbolic?

10. When Lucy, with Max, first sees the fountain in La Rosaleda, how might its streams be meaningful to her?

11. What does the scenery in the novel–gardens, vineyards, La Rosaleda–evoke? Do the roses and vines bear any significance to the rest of the story? What parallels do you see?

12. In the end, what did Lucy mean by “a homecoming”?

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 23 )
Rating Distribution

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(14)

4 Star

(9)

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 23 Customer Reviews
  • Posted November 13, 2009

    Wonderful Christian writing

    I'm going to be quite honest.I did not expect to enjoy this novel.Why? I enjoy reading horror and mystery novels which are usually quite peppered with a liberal dose of salty tongue.What did I discover? A very well written mystery/love story without a single off color word.Wow!That takes supreme talent. Your second novel is on my must-read list.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 18, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    This book is a gem!

    Tina Ann Forkner's debut novel is a book that brings the reader to a place to reflect on their own family history. The journey of Lucy and Kitty is one that will pull on your heart strings the whole way through.

    Tina paints a vivid picture of the CA wine country. There we are introduced immediately to the loss of Lucy's mother, Ruby. Their relationship is so rich and precious. Lucy is left in the care of her grandmother whom she refers to as Kitty. Kitty's goal is to keep Lucy away from not only her past, but Ruby's past as well. As Lucy matures and enters college, her desire to learn more about her past becomes an obsession.

    It becomes a battle of the wills between Kitty and Lucy. Circumstances begin to happen which continue to encourage Lucy on her journey. You can see the Lord's hand moving throughout and know He's drawing her into a relationship with him as well.

    In the end, Tina's character's will have you reflecting on your own life. Are there secrets that you've kept that have bound you more than set you free? Are there things you could still change for the positive if things haven't gone so smoothly? In the end, this journey wasn't just for Lucy, it was one for me as well.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 15, 2009

    Beautiful Debut Novel

    Tina Forkner¿s debut novel Ruby Among Us is beautifully written and transports you to the lush, rich Sonoma Valley. Ruby¿s daughter, Lucy, struggles to put the pieces together to discover the story of her deceased mother. Her efforts bring into focus not only Ruby¿s story but that of Kitty, the grandmother who raised her, and the story of Lucy herself. <BR/><BR/>Ruby Among Us is a tale of generational love and finding redemption from the past by dealing with the present. I loved the story of Ruby, Kitty, and Lucy and fell in love with the beautiful language and moving prose penned by Forkner.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 9, 2011

    A scenic drive straight to the heart

    Sometimes getting to the most scenic view at the top of a mountain takes a little extra time, and the same is true of this lovely book. The thorough development of the characters in this book is what makes it so rich, but there are no short-cuts to achieve that goal. So as you read, remember that when you get to the top of the mountain and can look down on the literary valley Forkner has created for you, you'll be glad for the journey.

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  • Posted September 27, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Excellent Book!

    I just loved this book - very readable and the characters are so endearing.

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  • Posted July 13, 2009

    I Also Recommend:

    Very well written!

    Beautiful story full of mystery and hope!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 16, 2009

    I Also Recommend:

    Lovely book, lovely setting, lovely characters

    Tina has found her voice in her premiere novel, Ruby Among Us. This is a rich character story filled with human failing yet bringing us hope for redemption. It took me a little while to figure out the mother-daughter-grandmother names but once I figured out who was who, I fell in love with all of them. I am excited to read Tina's next book when it is released this spring!

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  • Posted February 9, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Ruby Among Us is truely a jewel!

    I enjoyed Ruby Among Us in particular because of the interesting approach to a young girls way of dealing with an unresolved set of emotions and memories. The intertwining of characters is quite compelling. While there is mystery to the novel, there is also a sense of satisfaction with the answers. The novel is truely worth the read.

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  • Posted February 9, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Truth Will Set You Free

    This is a very thought provoking and moving book. Tina tells a tale that is intense. The plot is intricately woven with many twists and turns. The curiosity, pain and deep yearning of Lucy to get to the truth of her life, her mother's life and her grandmothers kept me reading this book every chance I could get to see if the truth would ever come out. This book showed me a word picture for John 8:32 which says "You will know the truth and the truth will set you free." Lucy longed to be free of the family secrets but how? <BR/><BR/>Kitty was the keeper of the family secrets. Her heart was broken and her spirit crushed by the storms of life. Kitty felt that she had to hold onto these secrets to survive. This book showed another word picture for Psalm 34:18 which says "The Lord is close to the broken hearted; He rescues those whose spirits are crushed." <BR/><BR/>This story also is about forgiveness, redemption, and new beginnings. I was compelled to keep reading this rich story to find out if Lucy could put the pieces of her life together. The life she never knew she had. Her Heritage. It's definitely a page turner! <BR/><BR/>Book Club Servant Leader www.psalm516.blogspot.com

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  • Posted October 29, 2008

    I Also Recommend:

    "Ruby Among Us" by Tina Ann Forkner

    "Ruby Among Us" is an outstanding novel from debut author Tina Ann Forkner. The story of 3 generations of women and the men they love is woven among the lush scenery of the places they cherish. Long-held family secrets unravel in a unique writing style that brings the characters to life and is at the same time both honest and sensitive about topics rarely brought out in Christian fiction. This is a fast-paced read that at times leaves you breathless to learn both the history and the future of characters you come to love.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 18, 2008

    An Inspirational Garden

    This lovely, sweet story is like a gentle stroll in a rose garden. There are velvety blooms of love, thorns of past hurts and fears, new buds of hope and innocence, tangled thick stems of hidden truths and lies, the faded blooms of past memories and of what might have been, and at the center the beautiful, heart-warming discovery of the most beautiful flowers of all: faith and unconditional love. Readers of inspirational stories will especially enjoy this one.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 16, 2008

    'Family Secrets'

    ¿This is a very thought provoking and moving book. Tina tells a tale that is intense. The plot is intricately woven with many twists and turns. The curiosity, pain and deep yearning of Lucy to get to the truth of her life, her mother¿s life and her grandmothers kept me reading this book every chance I could get to see if the truth would ever come out. This book showed me a word picture for John 8:32 which says ¿You will know the truth and the truth will set you free.¿ Lucy longed to be free of the family secrets but how? Kitty was the keeper of the family secrets. Her heart was broken and her spirit crushed by the storms of life. Kitty felt that she had to hold onto these secrets to survive. This book showed another word picture for Psalm 34:18 which says ¿The Lord is close to the broken hearted He rescues those whose spirits are crushed.¿ This story also is about forgiveness, redemption, and new beginnings. I was compelled to keep reading this rich story to find out if Lucy could put the pieces of her life together. The life she never knew she had. Her Heritage. It¿s definitely a page turner!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 13, 2008

    Ruby Rocks!

    I didn't know what to expect when I received Ruby Among Us in the mail, but it didn't take long for the story to pull me in. Michelle expresses it well when she says that the story starts deep, but the depth is necessary to understand why Lucy, the protagonist thinks, acts and feels the way she does. She yearns to remember her mother Ruby who died when Lucy was eight years old, yet grandmother Kitty is hesitant to fill in the many missing pieces of the puzzle that makes up their heritage. As time passes the pieces of her family's past fall into place for Lucy and she finds she has come full circle, rediscovering herself and a faith in God she thought she never had. I loved this book. Forkner's writing style brings alive the setting in a way that the Sonoma Valley becomes a character on its own. She opens up her characters hearts and draws the reader inside until you almost feel as though you are one with them. I look forward to many more books from Ms. Forkner.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 3, 2008

    Thought-provoking read

    This to me was a very thought-provoking book about family and the perceptions we ourselves have of our own families. Sometimes things are not as they appear and sometimes people make bad choices. This is a story about Ruby and the choices she made in her life and how they affected those around her. Do you ever wonder how the choices you make may affect others? Like I said, this was very thought provoking and definitely a worthwhile read. I loved the characters and couldn't wait to get more of them. Each page brought forth a new revelation that kept me spinning and seeking to learn more about the details that brought them to the choices they made. This is a book that I would highly recommend.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 30, 2008

    A Lovely & Moving First Novel

    Every family has secrets. For Lucy DiCamillo, who lost all memory of her early childhood at the time of her mother's tragic death, it seems that every day uncovers something knew to deal with. In Ruby Among Us Tina Ann Forkner weaves together memorable characters and a unique setting to create a standout debut novel. She explores the complicated relationships between mothers and daughters with honesty, and shows how the secrets we keep inside can eat us alive. This novel is a mixture of heartbreak, reconciliation and joy. I thoroughly enjoyed every bit of it, and look forward to the next offering from this talented new author.

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  • Posted January 29, 2009

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    Wonderful and emotionally moving story!

    Ruby Among Us starts with a heavy theme, but it's important in order to understand Lucy's perspective throughout the story. If you love and miss your mother who has passed on, this story will move you to tears of healing and unleash memories of love. My mother had gone to be with the Lord for over ten years now, and reading Ruby Among Us sparked memories of loving times as I reached the conclusion of the book. I don't want to give away any key plot points because half the pull of this story is not knowing imporant things about Lucy, Kitty and Ruby's pasts, and wanting so desperately to find out that you have trouble putting the book down. Forkner's writing style and voice is fresh, unique, and insightful. It's beautiful how she pulls you into the heart and mind of someone sheltered from life so much that she truly is an innocent in many of the things that take place around her. But the fresh, healing experiences she embraces, and her journey toward trusting others outside her immediate family is exciting and deep. And the romantic portions of this book are WONDERFUL and exciting. I felt my heart being tugged and moved with the tiny steps of faith that Lucy made toward healing...and toward love. For someone who has always had a father in her life, it was eye-opening for me to see how truly painful it is for a young woman to never have a father figure in her life. In fact, so much pain is evoked that the hurt can taint choices and destroy a young woman's security for years to come. Our culture has tried very hard to shut down the importance of a man's role in a family and in a daughter's heart. Ruby Among Us beautifully illustrates how erroneous this belief is. For that reason alone I would love to see many men embrace this book. The bummer is that this story was so good I'm sad it had to end. I am praying that Waterbrook has enough sense to realize that readers will want more of Forkner's work in their hands, so hopefully there will be a sequel coming. Pretty please?

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 28, 2008

    I Love Ruby

    I finished Ruby last night and loved it! Now, I want to go back and read it slower so I can absorb more. When I read a good book, I speed through it to get to the end to see what the big ¿kicker¿ is, etc., but I never read the end of the book first. So, now, I want to go back and sink into all of the descriptors and pictures you¿ve drawn. I really enjoyed your story, although, I¿ll have to admit, I could see myself in it a few times¿scary..so, if that is what you were trying to do¿Good Job! I can see why you have had such wonderful reviews on your book, and now I¿ll be first in line for your second one!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 19, 2008

    Tina Forkner is off to a great start

    This is a tale well told by a gifted young author. Forkner kept me turning the pages all the way to the end.

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  • Posted December 9, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    This is a superb character study

    Her mother Ruby died when Lucy DiCamillo was eight years old. Her maternal grandmother Kitty raised Lucy with love. Now an adult, Lucy wants to know more about her late mom than mostly the memories shared by her beloved grandmother, but fears any inquiries she makes might hurt Kitty.------------------ Lucy slowly learns why Ruby was a single mom raising her. She also begins to gain other pieces of her mom¿s life before Lucy was born and over the eight years they lived together. As she begins uncover secrets that enable her to start to know her mom beyond just her grandmother¿s memories of her daughter, Lucy also understands much more what makes Kitty tick and she realizes her granny will always love and cherish her.------------ This is a superb character study of a young adult needing her own personal connection to her late mom who died when she was a child. As Lucy investigates her maternal family tree, she tries to do so without hurting her grandma yet begins to have a nagging feeling that everyone else knows secrets they keep from her. Fans will accompany Lucy on her personal quest as she needs to feel Ruby amongst her.----------- Harriet Klausner

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 26, 2008

    Vibrant and Visual Writing

    Ms. Forkner's visual pen had me almost smelling the profusion of red roses. The story tugged me in at the very beginning. The unknowns kept me grabbing the book whenever I had a minute. I shed a tear here and there and reveled in the lush vineyards of Sonoma Valley. A warm, emotional, beautiful read!

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