The Center of Everything

Overview


For Ruby Pepperdine, the “center of everything” is on the rooftop of Pepperdine Motors in her donut-obsessed town of Bunning, New Hampshire, stargazing from the circle of her grandmother Gigi’s hug.  That’s how everything is supposed to be—until Ruby messes up and things spin out of control. But she has one last hope. It all depends on what happens on Bunning Day, when the entire town will hear Ruby read her winning essay. And it depends on her twelfth birthday wish—unless she messes that up too. Can Ruby’s...
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The Center of Everything

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Overview


For Ruby Pepperdine, the “center of everything” is on the rooftop of Pepperdine Motors in her donut-obsessed town of Bunning, New Hampshire, stargazing from the circle of her grandmother Gigi’s hug.  That’s how everything is supposed to be—until Ruby messes up and things spin out of control. But she has one last hope. It all depends on what happens on Bunning Day, when the entire town will hear Ruby read her winning essay. And it depends on her twelfth birthday wish—unless she messes that up too. Can Ruby’s wish set everything straight in her topsy-turvy world?
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

VOYA Top Shelf for Middle School Readers 2013 list

"The Center of Everything travels a satisfying, circular path that deliberately echoes the shape of a donut. . . . Wishing has a useful place both in childhood and in this novel; but so, too, does reality, especially when rendered with this kind of sensitivity."
—Meg Wolitzer, The New York Times Book Review
 
"Another gem from one of my favorite authors! Ruby Pepperdine and her wish will work their way into the center of your heart, where they’ll remain (along with a yearning for donuts) long after you close the book."
—Ingrid Law, author of Savvy, a Newbery Honor Book

"A beautiful, sensitive, thoughtful novel that will make you think and smile and think some more, and fall in love with Linda Urban's books."
—Kathryn Erskine, National Book Award-winner
 
"Every book by Linda Urban makes me laugh, cry, hope, wonder, and fall in love with her writing. With The Center of Everything, she has done it again!"
—Barbara O’Connor, author of How to Steal a Dog
 
* "Throughout this slim, affecting novel, Urban treats Ruby's bewilderment with care, and gracefully reinforces the value of friends, family, and community."
Booklist, starred review

"Ruby's large imagination and even bigger heart are beautifully evoked as the sixth grader finds a way to keep the memory of her grandmother alive."
Publishers Weekly

* "A poignant, finely wrought exploration of grief."
Kirkus, starred review

"By turns thought-provoking, humorous, and poignant, Ruby's story introduces a multi-faceted character well worth meeting."
Horn Book

"Give this to patient readers who enjoy Polly Horvath's The Vacation (2005) and Everything on a Waffle (2001)."
School Library Journal

* "[Urban] compactly, gently addresses some common aspects of grief: the isolation, the regrets, the bargaining, and the epistemological questions about meaning. . . . This is a terrific first step up for kids who are just beginning to explore more complicated novels."
Bulletin, starred review

The New York Times Book Review - Meg Wolitzer
The Center of Everything travels a satisfying, circular path that deliberately echoes the shape of a doughnut. But what's also doughnutlike here is the notable absence at the heart of the story. The loss of Gigi feels real, though Ruby's nagging freight of uneasiness and sense of responsibility are more unusual elements in a novel for young readers. Children are often made by their parents to feel that they're "the center of everything," and though this can create sturdy, durable egos, it can also make a child feel that her own actions have caused something dreadful to happen, and that magical thinking can fix it. Wishing has a useful place both in childhood and in this novel; but so, too, does reality, especially when rendered with this kind of sensitivity.
Publishers Weekly
The poignancy that characterized Urban’s A Crooked Kind of Perfect and Hound Dog True is also present in this novel about wishes and regret. Months after her grandmother’s death, 12-year-old Ruby Pepperdine composes a winning essay honoring her New Hampshire town’s namesake: Capt. Cornelius Bunning, inventor of the doughnut. Ruby should be ecstatic that she gets to read her essay in front of the whole community on Bunning Day, but her mind is on other things, especially how she didn’t listen to her grandmother’s final words before she died. Ruby thinks that maybe if she wishes hard enough, “everything will be back to how it is supposed to be,” but making a wish the right way is a tricky business. In a story whose winding plot echoes the doughnut shape that fascinates Ruby, Urban traces how Ruby discovers connections among dissimilar phenomena, including the nature of relativity, everyday sounds, and being part of a community. Ruby’s large imagination and even bigger heart are beautifully evoked as the sixth-grader finds a way to keep the memory of her grandmother alive. Ages 9–12. (Mar.)
Children's Literature - Meredith Kiger
It is Bunning Day in twelve-year-old Ruby Pepperdine's hometown. Captain Bunning supposedly invented the doughnut way back when in this small New England town and everyone celebrates it yearly with a big parade. Ruby is your typical sixth grader only she has gotten a reputation for being someone folks could always count on, unusual for a twelve year-old. Recently, Ruby's grandmother died and Ruby feels as if she failed her by not listening to her ramblings as she lay ill and near death. Disappointing someone is something new for Ruby. There is a legend in town that tossing a quarter threw the doughnut on Captain Bunning's statue in the middle of town will get you your wish. Ruby actually accomplished this feat on her birthday, no less. Her wish has something to do with righting the wrong to her grandmother, Gigi, who was so important in Ruby's life and in the life of the community. Ruby tries to solve her problem but often gets side tracked by her reputation of always being there for others. On the day of the Bunning Day Parade, Ruby has an epiphany while preparing to give her speech as the Bunning Day Essay Contest winner. This picture of life in a small town and the worries of a preteen will hit home with middle schoolers. Reviewer: Meredith Kiger, Ph.D.
School Library Journal
Gr 4–6—From the time she was in preschool, Ruby Pepperdine has been good at figuring out what she was supposed to do. When her grandmother passes away without Ruby having a chance to listen to what Gigi tried to tell her the morning she died, Ruby knows what she needs to do. Everyone in town knows that if you find a quarter from the year of your birth, repeat your wish 90 times, then on your birthday toss the quarter through the hole of the doughnut held aloft by the statue of the town's founder, your wish will come true. Quarter in hand, Ruby completes the ritual. Will the wish come true? Ruby worries that there is something else she is supposed to do to help it along. In fact, she focuses so hard on her wish that she begins to lose sight of everything (and everyone) around her. Ruby's story flashes back and forth between what should be her wish-fulfillment day and the events leading up to it. As the day draws near, it's clear that she stands to lose more than just the chance to right a wrong with her grandmother. The story is sweet, but a bit slow on the lead-up to Ruby's big day. Give this to patient readers who enjoy Polly Horvath's The Vacation (2005) and Everything on a Waffle (2001) or Ruth White's Way Down Deep (2007) and Belle Prater's Boy (1996, all Farrar).—Kelly Roth, Bartow County Public Library, Cartersville, GA
Kirkus Reviews
Sixth-grader Ruby Pepperdine always used to be "good at figuring out what she was supposed to do," but since her grandmother's death, she's lost the center of everything. Growing up in Bunning, N.H., Ruby always listened to her grandmother, Gigi, until the day Gigi died, and Ruby didn't listen to her. Since Ruby does what's expected, she thinks she should be back to normal after Gigi's death. For three months, she's pretended to be fine, not even telling her best friend "how out of balance she's felt." On her 12th birthday, Ruby makes a special wish that everything will be the way it's supposed to be by the time she reads her prizewinning essay at the Bunning Day Parade. But when the day arrives, Ruby wonders if there's any such thing as "supposed to." Maybe listening and connecting are a lot more important. Written in the third person, present tense, Ruby's story unfolds from her perspective on the day of the parade as she thinks back to what led to her obsessive wish to know what her grandmother tried to tell her. Ruby's a credible heroine, and her response to her grandmother's death rings true. Repetitive motifs of circles, centers and holes reinforce the theme of loss. A poignant, finely wrought exploration of grief. (Fiction. 9-12)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780544340695
  • Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
  • Publication date: 2/28/2015
  • Pages: 208
  • Sales rank: 1,456,460
  • Age range: 9 - 12 Years

Meet the Author


Linda Urban’s debut novel, A Crooked Kind of Perfect, was selected for many best books lists and was nominated for twenty state awards. She is also the author of Hound Dog True, a Kirkus Best Book of 2011, the acclaimed novel The Center of Everything, and the picture book Mouse Was Mad, illustrated by Henry Cole. A former bookseller, she lives in Vermont. Visit her website at www.lindaurbanbooks.com.
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