Ruby Pepperdine lives in a small town in New Hampshire that's obsessed by donuts. To Ruby, however, the important thing isn't so much the circle as the center and for her whole life the center of everything was sitting on the roof of her family's car business with her grandmother Gigi. But now Gigi is gone and Ruby, the quiet one, the one who always does what's expected, who always knows the right thing to do, is feeling completely lost and adrift. She's certainly not ready to give a speech on Bunning Day, when the town celebrates their founder and the creator of the doughnut, Captain Bunning.
The story starts with the legend of the doughnut, then jumps to Ruby getting ready for the parade. It hops back and forth in flashbacks as Ruby moves closer and closer to the moment of her speech and bit by bit the reader learns why she's feeling so lost, why she's fighting with her best friend, and what's happening around her and in her head.
This felt to me very like Sarah Dessen for the middle grade crowd, not that that is a bad thing at all. I thought the constant flashbacks and non-linear storyline might get confusing, but it all kind of blended together well and judging by the number of times this has been checked out, it's certainly not deterring any readers. There's a kind of dreamy quality to the story, as Ruby comes to grips with grief and moving on, that in some ways makes the quirky bits stand out but in other ways they fit in almost in a magical realism sense.
Verdict: This isn't a book I'd personally want to reread, but it was actually kind of satisfying to let my adult thoughts go and sink into the mindset of a just-growing-up middle grade girl. Lots of middle grade girls will like the blend of sadness and hope and how Ruby is slowly growing into a sense of self and a realization that the world is complicated and things don't always happen as they are supposed to. Recommended.
ISBN: 9780547763484; Published March 2013 by Harcourt Children's Books/Houghton Mifflin Harcourt; ARC provided by publisher at ALA Midwinter 2013; Purchased for the library