The Center of Everything by Linda Urban
Borrowed from the Camden County Library System
Yes, this is another kids' book. Instead of giving a plot summary, I'd rather talk about what lies at the heart of this book. This is the story of Ruby Pepperdine, dealing with the loss of the grandmother who was so much a part of her life. After Gigi died, people were sad for a little and then Ruby started to feel like everyone went back to normal and wasn't really interested in whether or not she was still sad. She was still plenty sad.
I remember, after my father died, there was that huge outpouring of support, but it wasn't very long after that my mother started to feel like people had moved on and that they didn't seem to be able to understand why she hadn't yet. Not our immediate family, we were all definitely in the same boat, but my mom's cousins and friends, people who all knew and liked or loved my dad, who missed him and mourned his loss. People who then fell back into their lives. This was fine. They were supposed to do that. It wasn't fine that my mom ever had to feel like people thought she was malingering. I'm sure none of the people who left her feeling that way intended it, or even realized it. I don't think any of them are cold or callous. I don't believe any of them would make light of her pain. These are the very same people who, to this day, share stories of my parents with me and tell me how often they think of them and miss them. In that respect I am kind of the opposite of my mother. I have no expectation that I will ever stop missing them or thinking of them. That just seems crazy to me. Which, I think, makes it more meaningful to me that that are so many people out there remembering them fondly, missing them and loving them. I guess, I see my mom in Ruby Pepperdine and, that made me kind of vested in her success in this book.
When Ruby finally reaches the point where she's ready to throw caution to the wind, and try whatever she can to make things right she sets a whole lot of new and better things into motion. She makes a new friend, she finally gets through to her best friend, she comes to the conclusion that "supposed to" can be a ridiculous thing and a terrible reason to do or be something. And, most importantly, she shares a moment with her dad where he reveals that he feels the same way, missing Gigi everyday and feeling like everyone else got over it and it was just him still missing her and feeling sad.
Urban's Ruby is a sweet girl who feels like she's failing the people most important to her and isn't sure how to fix it all. What she finds is that the people who care about her want to help her and support her. She has a best friend who occasionally comes off as being self-absorbed, but is, in fact, a very good friend for Ruby. The two complement one another and when Lucy knows what Ruby is dealing with, she is right there by her side, trying to help. I think there are plenty of important messages in this book. I hope it winds up in all the right hands.