A Child’s View of Incarceration

Ruby on the Outside
by Nora Raleigh Baskin

At only 163 pages, Ruby on the Outside is packed with powerful messages about family, friendship, honestly, loyalty, and right and wrong. From the very first page I felt invested in Ruby’s emotional and social life. Ruby is only 11 years old and hasn’t spent a single day with her mother outside the walls of Bedford Correctional Institute in 6 years. The time she does have with her mother is spent in a visiting room under the watchful eyes of correctional officers, and teeming with the emotions of other families, as they face a situation that most children would find unimaginable.

All of Ruby’s friendships have been unavoidably superficial. In an effort to protect her family “secret” she has kept her distance from other children. Understandably, she fears what would happen if her peers knew about her mother. While she longs for a best friend she remains an outsider. Things begin to change in Ruby’s life when she meets Margalit. Margalit is the type of best friend any girl would want: she is funny, and honest, and void of pretension. Ruby is indescribably happy, and she begins to let down some of her defenses and starts to grow close to her new friend. But when the two family’s histories seem about to collide, Ruby must find a way to cope with what appears to be an insurmountable obstacle on the path to true friendship.

Note: In the book’s acknowledgements, Nora Raleigh Baskin thanks Jenifer McShane for the making of her documentary, “The Mothers of Bedford.” Read more about it here.

LisaBlogThis Youth book review was brought to you by Lisa Q. Harling. When not conducting Story Times or reading the best that kids’ authors have to offer, Lisa enjoys playing with her dogs and keeping up with her two adventurous sons. If you have suggestions for future book reviews, email her at lqharling@cityofportsmouth.com.


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