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Probably Ruby : a novel
2022
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Library Journal Review
A Métis woman in her thirties, Ruby was adopted by white parents who imparted nothing of her heritage, and now she wants to know where she came from. With her, readers learn about her birth parents and grandparents, as well as her children and the lovers, both men and women, who have enriched her life if sometimes bringing her heartache. From Cree-Métis writer Bird-Wilson, who has published poetry and story collections in Canada and debuts in the United States with this first novel.
Publishers Weekly Review
The moving if somewhat disjointed latest from Saskatchewan Métis and nêhiyaw poet Bird-Wilson (The Red Files) pieces together scenes from the life of a troubled and spirited woman. The protagonist, daughter of two teenagers, one Métis and one white, is adopted by a white couple and grows up in western Canada with the name Ruby Valentine. She copes with feeling disconnected from her adopted family and from her ancestral origins by drinking excessively and with a series of doomed relationships. The author flips back and forth through Ruby's unhappy childhood and unfulfilling visits with her birth family, with each chapter dedicated to a different character in her "relationship web." There's her birth father, who died in a car wreck when Ruby was a child; her mother, who was forced by the state to surrender her baby; her grandfather, who endured horrors at a residential school for Indigenous children; and several others. Each chapter is vivid and contains a satisfying resolution, though the whole occasionally frustrates, as it seems designed for an overarching narrative but doesn't quite cohere. Still, the fragmented nature lends a sense of verisimilitude to this painful story of a fractured family history, and readers will be carried along by Ruby's vitality and perseverance. This is well worth a look. (Apr.)
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