Almost Paradise
Twelve-year-old Ruby Clyde Henderson’s life turns upside down the day her mother’s boyfriend holds up a convenience store, and her mother is wrongly imprisoned for assisting with the crime. Ruby and her pet pig, Bunny, find their way to her estranged Aunt Eleanor's home. Aunt Eleanor is a nun who lives on a peach orchard called Paradise, and had turned away from their family long ago. With a little patience, she and Ruby begin to get along―but Eleanor has secrets of her own, secrets that might mean more hard times for Ruby.Ruby believes that she's the only one who can find a way to help heal her loved ones, save her mother, and bring her family back together again. But being in a family means that everyone has to work together to support each other, and being home doesn't always mean going back to where you came from.

Almost Paradise Details

TitleAlmost Paradise
Author
FormatHardcover
LanguageEnglish
ReleaseJul 25th, 2017
PublisherFarrar, Straus & Giroux
ISBN0374303789
ISBN-139780374303785
Number of pages288 pages
Rating
GenreChildrens, Middle Grade, Realistic Fiction, Fiction

Almost Paradise Review

  • Corabel Shofner
    October 17, 2016
    Yeah, it's me so I'm partial.
  • Wendy MacKnight
    December 16, 2016
    I have given my whole heart to Ruby Clyde and she will forever have a piece of my heart. What an amazing book. Ruby's life has been anything but easy, but a series of awful events that might've taken out a lesser mortal are no match for the indomitable spirit that is Ruby. This book is a gem, a golden nugget of a story. Throw in some Charles Dickens and a pig named Bunny and you have a miracle of a story.
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  • Patrick
    January 31, 2017
    Really great story about being handed some crappy life cards, but making the best of those cards being dealt and turning them into something really powerful and life changing. So enjoyed this ARC!
  • Linda Williams Jackson
    April 9, 2017
    I've had the wonderful opportunity to actually spend time with the author, Corabel Shofner, which made reading Almost Paradise even more special. Corabel is so full of life that it's contagious. And that vibrancy for life spills right into her writing. Almost Paradise is bursting with life, wisdom, and hope. Anyone who loves Kate Dicamillo's Opal Buloni in Because of Winn Dixie or Sheila Turnage's Miss Moses LoBeau in Three Times Lucky will also love Corabel Shofner's Miss Ruby Clyde Henderson i I've had the wonderful opportunity to actually spend time with the author, Corabel Shofner, which made reading Almost Paradise even more special. Corabel is so full of life that it's contagious. And that vibrancy for life spills right into her writing. Almost Paradise is bursting with life, wisdom, and hope. Anyone who loves Kate Dicamillo's Opal Buloni in Because of Winn Dixie or Sheila Turnage's Miss Moses LoBeau in Three Times Lucky will also love Corabel Shofner's Miss Ruby Clyde Henderson in Almost Paradise.If you have the opportunity, get out and meet this author when she goes on tour after the book releases. I promise you that you won't regret it.
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  • Ruth Lauren
    December 22, 2016
    This book has voice and heart by the bucketload. I defy anyone not to fall completely for Ruby Clyde.
  • Joanne O'Sullivan
    July 3, 2017
    Attention, readers! Do you love stories with heart and hilarity? Stories with such voice, such depth that they make an indelible impression on you, in the vein of BECAUSE OF WINN DIXIE? Then you absolutely *must* read ALMOST PARADISE. Ruby Clyde has to be the most memorable, the most lovable character I have read in a long time. She drives this uproariously funny and heartbreaking book, but she's also surrounded by characters, storylines and images that will steal your heart. I was laughing out Attention, readers! Do you love stories with heart and hilarity? Stories with such voice, such depth that they make an indelible impression on you, in the vein of BECAUSE OF WINN DIXIE? Then you absolutely *must* read ALMOST PARADISE. Ruby Clyde has to be the most memorable, the most lovable character I have read in a long time. She drives this uproariously funny and heartbreaking book, but she's also surrounded by characters, storylines and images that will steal your heart. I was laughing out loud throughout the book, but my heartstrings never stopped humming. Newbury committee- take note!
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  • Kristin
    February 4, 2017
    Ruby Clyde stole my heart from the first line: I woke up alone in the backseat of the Catfish's car. Debut author Shofner's story shines with humor and Southern heart. Ruby is honest to a fault but tender-hearted, too. She aims to be a nurse and believes she can heal others with her hands. If only she could fix her life. She doesn't want to be an orphan and winds up at Paradise Ranch, a nunnery and home of Sister Eleanor, her estranged aunt. But as good stories go, things don't stay peaceful, ev Ruby Clyde stole my heart from the first line: I woke up alone in the backseat of the Catfish's car. Debut author Shofner's story shines with humor and Southern heart. Ruby is honest to a fault but tender-hearted, too. She aims to be a nurse and believes she can heal others with her hands. If only she could fix her life. She doesn't want to be an orphan and winds up at Paradise Ranch, a nunnery and home of Sister Eleanor, her estranged aunt. But as good stories go, things don't stay peaceful, even in paradise. ALMOST PARADISE is 100% a delight whose ending is just right.
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  • Ruth Lehrer
    February 18, 2017
    I was lucky enough to get a free ARC of this summer 2017 middle grade book. ALMOST PARADISE by Corabel Shofner is a wonderful find. The tough girl protagonist, Ruby Clyde, is funny and smart. Along with her pet pig, Bunny, Ruby tells us her engaging family story. We trust her voice so much that even slightly far-fetched events are totally believable. Shofner conveys Ruby’s voice with such authenticity that I’m totally certain I would recognize Ruby Clyde if I saw her in the local diner. Hop to a I was lucky enough to get a free ARC of this summer 2017 middle grade book. ALMOST PARADISE by Corabel Shofner is a wonderful find. The tough girl protagonist, Ruby Clyde, is funny and smart. Along with her pet pig, Bunny, Ruby tells us her engaging family story. We trust her voice so much that even slightly far-fetched events are totally believable. Shofner conveys Ruby’s voice with such authenticity that I’m totally certain I would recognize Ruby Clyde if I saw her in the local diner. Hop to and pre-order this charming middle grade novel!
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  • Lois Sepahban
    January 1, 2017
    I was lucky to read an ARC of ALMOST PARADISE.I completely loved this book--wonderful characters, perfect blend of sadness and humor, compelling story.Highly recommend for fans of middle grade fiction.
  • Katie Fitzgerald
    June 14, 2017
    Ruby Clyde Henderson doesn't really want to spend her birthday traveling by car to an unknown destination with her mom, Babe, and Babe's obnoxious boyfriend, Carl, known as the Catfish. But what the Catfish says goes, so Ruby Clyde is along for the ride, like it or not. Unfortunately, when they are stopped at a gas station, the Catfish commits armed robbery and both he and Babe are taken into custody. The only relative who can possibly take in Ruby Clyde (and her newly acquired pig, Bunny, who w Ruby Clyde Henderson doesn't really want to spend her birthday traveling by car to an unknown destination with her mom, Babe, and Babe's obnoxious boyfriend, Carl, known as the Catfish. But what the Catfish says goes, so Ruby Clyde is along for the ride, like it or not. Unfortunately, when they are stopped at a gas station, the Catfish commits armed robbery and both he and Babe are taken into custody. The only relative who can possibly take in Ruby Clyde (and her newly acquired pig, Bunny, who was also stolen by Carl) is her mother's twin sister, Eleanor, about whose existence Ruby has just learned for the first time. Eleanor is an Episcopalian nun who lives on a ranch called Paradise and is facing a potentially deadly cancer diagnosis, but despite living as a solitary and having her own problems, she agrees to help Ruby Clyde, and over time, the two grow close enough to begin healing the rifts in their family.I included this title on my list of most anticipated 2017 books, and the author was kind enough to supply me with a digital ARC from NetGalley. My primary interest in the story was the fact that it involves religion, since I am always curious to see how middle grade novels handle issues of faith. Since I am Catholic, not Episcopalian, I can't say much about how accurately or inaccurately the story treats this particular denomination (which it describes as a "pretty loosey-goosey, do-whatever-you-want kind of church"), but I still feel qualified to comment on how religion is treated overall.I think, on the whole, the book is respectful of belief in God. Ruby Clyde has some unusual thoughts about Biblical teaching - e.g., she feels that Mary nagged Jesus into changing water into wine at the Wedding at Cana because "she just wanted wine" and that "Adam was a wuss" because "God made him weak" - but I never got the impression that these were anything more than a child's immature (and funny) reflections on pieces of scripture she doesn't yet fully understand. (In that sense, Ruby reminded me a lot of Lucky from The Higher Power of Lucky, who doesn't quite know what a higher power is, but still wants to find one.) Certainly kids who know their Bible stories will understand Ruby's references in these passages and understand that her interpretations are a little off the beaten path. I appreciated that these references were in the book at all, as Biblical allusions are not all that common in mainstream kids' books.I also appreciated the fact that Sister Eleanor makes it clear that she wears her habit by choice. I think it is a common misconception in our secular culture that Christianity oppresses women religious (and women in general) by forcing them to do things they do not want to do. In fact, though, women who answer a calling to become nuns, do so of their own free will, and though they may take vows that thereafter require them to do certain things or dress a certain way, they fulfill these vows each day by choice. It was nice to see this understood and explicitly stated in a casual way.The book does mention Catholicism in one scene, and obviously that caught my attention. When the Catfish first hears of Sister Eleanor, he becomes agitated and calls out to Babe and Ruby Clyde, "You Catholic?!" I will confess that this rubbed me the wrong way a little bit at first, since his tone makes it sound like being Catholic is about the worst thing that can happen to a person. But as I read Ruby's explanation of her grandmother's distrust for Catholics, and her quick summary of the development of the Anglican church because of Henry VIII, I realized that the only anti-Catholic sentiments in the book are associated with villains of the story, and that the characters who have the reader's sympathy remain either neutral or silent about the Catholic church. I understand the need for the author to mention it, both as a means of delivering historical information about the Episcopal church and as a means of explaining that Eleanor is not a Catholic nun, as many readers might otherwise rightfully assume. Part of me wished for just one more sentence to clarify that Catholicism isn't inherently bad just because some people feel it is, but I also tend to resent it when authors over-explain themselves so an extra sentence might just have been overkill. Ultimately, I don't think the book espouses an anti-Catholic worldview or that it would sway a young reader with no prior exposure to the Church to automatically condemn it. I do expect Catholic kids might not like the Catfish too much, but no one is meant to like him anyway, so they would not be alone in that feeling.Religion aside, I do have to admit that this book was not really my cup of tea. I was expecting a funny story a la the Mercy Watson series, but what I found was more quirky than zany and overall more emotional than I was anticipating. I think the story is well-written, and there are entire scenes that came across so vividly I can replay them in my mind even without the book in front of me. I liked Ruby Clyde and I found the resolution to her story believable and satisfying. I just don't think I was in the right mood for a sassy tomboy character, or for the strange and unfortunate circumstances that shape the events immediately following her birthday. I would definitely have no qualms about recommending the book to Christian families (even the Catholic ones!), but I do think it's a book that a certain type of reader will appreciate more than others. I could appreciate what was good about it; I just didn't feel that it was my type of book overall.Either way, I think Corabel Shofner is an author to watch in the coming years. Almost Paradise is a strong debut, and I'll be curious to see what other stories she tells in future novels.This review also appears on my blog, Read-at-Home Mom.
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  • Virginia McGee Butler
    July 14, 2017
    The first clue that Almost Paradise would qualify for a good Southern yarn came when I saw the author’s name, Corabel Shofner, on the Net Galley offering for an advance reading copy. She did, indeed, grow up in the Mississippi Delta with a long line of Southern ancestors. The second clue came in Corabel’s workshop at the Faye B. Kaigler Children’s Book Festival when she recounted growing up among eccentric relatives. By this time, I had her book downloaded on my Kindle ready to read when it came The first clue that Almost Paradise would qualify for a good Southern yarn came when I saw the author’s name, Corabel Shofner, on the Net Galley offering for an advance reading copy. She did, indeed, grow up in the Mississippi Delta with a long line of Southern ancestors. The second clue came in Corabel’s workshop at the Faye B. Kaigler Children’s Book Festival when she recounted growing up among eccentric relatives. By this time, I had her book downloaded on my Kindle ready to read when it came up in the queue. It’s a good thing I didn’t know just how entertaining it would be or my queue would have been completely messed up. There are problems aplenty for protagonist Ruby Clyde (also a Southern name) – a father who died before she was born, a mean grandmother, an estranged aunt. And these are before her mother’s boyfriend takes her and her mother on a trip where they steal/rescue a pig from a show and the boyfriend commits armed robbery. When her mother is falsely accused of abetting the crime and is put in jail, Ruby Clyde must rely on others to help her find the estranged aunt who turns out to have secrets of her own.Spunk and humor lace into Ruby Clyde’s search for home and vindication for her mother. Those who do her harm are balanced by others who genuinely care for her. Even as the author brings rescuers into Ruby Clyde’s life, she pokes fun at the icons of Southern culture. “Mr. Gaylord Lewis had gone to court and told the judge he would watch after my mother until trial. And since Mr. Lewis was so big and important with football and money and God, the judge couldn’t say no.” I’ll miss Ruby Clyde now that I’ve closed the last page of the book. It’s available for purchase on July 25.I would suggest pairing this book written by a descendant of Delta landowners with Midnight Without a Moon, written by a descendant of sharecroppers, that I reviewed on June 16. The authors met in a coincidence as their books came out and have become friends.
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  • DB
    July 14, 2017
    "I believe places can heal. I believe science can heal. I believe God can heal. And I believe my hands can heal. It is best to use all of the above to get maximum results."I loved this beautifully written story about Ruby clyde, a tough, yet compassionate, young girl who's been forced to grow up way too fast. I would be happy to live at Paradise Ranch with Ruby, sitting in the trees, eating peaches, for the rest of my life. But just as the cover states, home is where you make it."Turtles carry t "I believe places can heal. I believe science can heal. I believe God can heal. And I believe my hands can heal. It is best to use all of the above to get maximum results."I loved this beautifully written story about Ruby clyde, a tough, yet compassionate, young girl who's been forced to grow up way too fast. I would be happy to live at Paradise Ranch with Ruby, sitting in the trees, eating peaches, for the rest of my life. But just as the cover states, home is where you make it."Turtles carry their homes with them, why couldn't I? Besides, my home was no longer a place, it was my people. People heal each other, and it takes time."
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  • Nancy Tandon
    July 10, 2017
    Ruby Clyde's voicey sass reached out from the pages and made me want to be her 1) friend, 2) sister, 3) mom, 4) anything! This kid navigates some extremely dysfunctional adults and situations, but the whole time you know she has it in her to make it through. The addition of the pig into the story (and the *darling* scene break images) made for some laugh out loud moments. I'll be thinking about this one for a long time.
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  • Sarah Hardy
    April 11, 2017
    What a perfectly lovely book about the longing for home and family. Almost Paradise is a decidedly Southern story full of wackadoodle characters and roadside attractions ... with an ornery nun and pet pig thrown into the mix. Ruby Clyde's voice is spot-on and full of heart as she navigates her journey and learns to "love in pieces."
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  • Laura Shovan
    July 23, 2017
    Ruby Clyde's voice had my heart from page one. This contemporary middle grade feels timeless. It's filled with quirky, wonderful characters: Sister Eleanor, Bunny the Pig, and all of the adults who step in to be Ruby's makeshift family.
  • Laurie
    April 7, 2017
    Review to come for School Library Journal.
  • Bridget Hodder
    July 16, 2017
    Brilliant! I can't say enough about this book, but I'm going to try! Review to come.
  • Elizabeth
    July 4, 2017
    *I received an ARC of this book through Goodreads giveaways*I absolutely adored this book! Ruby Clyde's adventures are exciting and funny and hard to stop reading about. You really feel for her as she struggles through being dragged away from her home and ends up living with an aunt she's never met. The characters are so lovable, with the exception of the Catfish. This is a great late elementary/early middle school book with adventures that would appeal to both boys and girls. If you love childr *I received an ARC of this book through Goodreads giveaways*I absolutely adored this book! Ruby Clyde's adventures are exciting and funny and hard to stop reading about. You really feel for her as she struggles through being dragged away from her home and ends up living with an aunt she's never met. The characters are so lovable, with the exception of the Catfish. This is a great late elementary/early middle school book with adventures that would appeal to both boys and girls. If you love children's books like 'Because of Winn-Dixie' you should definitely check this one out!
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  • Sara
    June 10, 2017
    A girl with true grit and her animal friends are sure to charm every reader, as they have me!
  • Karina
    December 18, 2016
    This book had me laughing and crying! A very touching story about twelve-year-old Ruby Clyde Henderson, a girl who could talk the ears off a horse. When her mother is wrongly jailed for a crime her boyfriend committed, Ruby finds her way to her mysterious aunt's place. Once there, she finds herself at home, and discovers secrets that complicate her life even further. I love this book and the characters! A wonderful debut!
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  • Darcey
    April 28, 2017
    I was able to read an Advanced Reader’s Copy of this book. I must admit when I looked at the jacket copy I thought it might be too predictable and not my thing, but I couldn't have been more wrong. It is funny and touching and full of unexpected characters and twists and turns of story plot all while keeping the sensibilities that will appeal to a wide range of middle grade readers. Ruby Cylde will stay with me as a character for a long time. Absolutely recommend.
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  • Patricia
    February 19, 2017
    It's impossible not to root for Ruby Clyde. Funny, whip smart, and full of love, Ruby Cyde manages to rise to every difficulty that comes her way with grit and heart. The book is filled with larger than life events that somehow feel just right and a cast of characters that you wish you knew in real life. Corabel Shofner's debut is a delight and teachers and students are going to love to read this gem aloud.
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  • Cynthia Reeg
    December 13, 2016
    WONDERFUL!!!I had the privilege to read an Advanced Reader’s Copy of this entertaining and endearing middle grade novel. The story opens with Ruby Cylde Henderson being spirited away (on her twelfth birthday) on a road trip by her mother’s awful boyfriend, Carl—or as Ruby refers to him, Catfish. Her mother is along for the ride as well. Ruby’s sentiments toward her mom can be summed up as, “Mother was no help at all, but don’t hold that against her.” She’s a loving but ineffective mother, which WONDERFUL!!!I had the privilege to read an Advanced Reader’s Copy of this entertaining and endearing middle grade novel. The story opens with Ruby Cylde Henderson being spirited away (on her twelfth birthday) on a road trip by her mother’s awful boyfriend, Carl—or as Ruby refers to him, Catfish. Her mother is along for the ride as well. Ruby’s sentiments toward her mom can be summed up as, “Mother was no help at all, but don’t hold that against her.” She’s a loving but ineffective mother, which means Ruby often needs to step in to run the show.When the troop rolls into Little Rock, Arkansas, Ruby and her mother try to rescue a performing pig, Bunny, from the IQ Zoo. Catfish fires rounds from his new gun to implement Bunny’s breakout. As they approach Austin, Texas—and a reunion with her mother’s estranged twin sister, an Episcopalian nun—the trio stops at a gas station. Unbeknownst to the mother and daughter, Catfish proceeds to rob the store at gunpoint. Her mother is waiting in the car while Ruby is walking Bunny, when “Sirens whipped around, churning my heart so hard I grabbed my chest to hold it in.”Catfish is caught and Ruby’s mom is arrested as well. Ruby manages to stay hidden and proceeds to search for her aunt. With some help from friendly locals, Ruby finds Aunt Eleanor, a mostly reclusive and silent nun, living at Paradise Ranch and growing peaches. After a number of weeks living together, Aunt Eleanor and Ruby begin to communicate. Ruby has finally found stability in her life. She no longer must function as the adult. Even though Ruby misses her mother, she and her pig Bunny have truly found paradise.But soon Ruby discovers that her aunt is battling cancer. Her aunt takes Ruby to Austin to visit her mother and the lawyer representing her. On this trip Aunt Eleanor faints and must be hospitalized then undergo surgery. An anxious Ruby waits by her beloved aunt’s bedside in the hospital. “Time keeps moving regardless of how you feel about it,” she notes. Ruby feels “as wiggly as a snake on hot rocks.” As she contemplates her circumstances, Ruby gains some perspective on her bittersweet life. “You have to love what you get.”Aunt Eleanor recovers from the surgery and, with her benefactor’s help, bails Ruby’s mom out of jail. Aunt Eleanor decides to “un-nun” in order to better help Ruby’s mom know how to mother. Ruby watches as her mother learns how to cook and drive and better care for her. The two adult sisters, distanced by time and circumstances, come to a new understanding and a renewed love. “Sometimes we are faced with impossible choices and that is life.”I don’t want to spoil the surprising ending, so I won’t divulge it here. But I will say how much I loved twelve-year-old Ruby Clyde, who’s “as flat as a pancake” and looks like a boy and hates to wear dresses. I loved her determination and her outlook on life. “Love begets love, even if it is in small flawed pieces.” The author mixes a cast of quirky characters with an engaging plot and colorful prose to create a stunning contemporary middle grade debut novel. The characters and tone remind me a bit of one of my favorite contemporary authors, Kate DiCamillo. So now I’ve added Ms. Shofner to my favorites list as well. Although this is her debut novel, I’m sure she will be penning many more awesome reads in the years to come, and middle grade readers will be truly be in “paradise.” This would be a great read aloud for classes or at home. Don’t miss it!
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  • Angie
    May 31, 2017
    Ruby Clyde Henderson wakes up on her birthday in the backseat of The Catfish's car headed to California. Carl, aka the Catfish, is Ruby's mom's boyfriend and he has a wild idea to head to Hollywood. Ruby's mom, Babe, hasn't been ok since Ruby's dad was shot during a robbery causing Ruby to be born early. After a stop in Arkansas to steal a pig named Bunny, the group is driving through Texas when Carl robs a gas station. The police arrest Carl and Babe while Ruby hides. Turns out they are very ne Ruby Clyde Henderson wakes up on her birthday in the backseat of The Catfish's car headed to California. Carl, aka the Catfish, is Ruby's mom's boyfriend and he has a wild idea to head to Hollywood. Ruby's mom, Babe, hasn't been ok since Ruby's dad was shot during a robbery causing Ruby to be born early. After a stop in Arkansas to steal a pig named Bunny, the group is driving through Texas when Carl robs a gas station. The police arrest Carl and Babe while Ruby hides. Turns out they are very near where her aunt Eleanor lives and, through the help of a stranger, Ruby is able to locate Eleanor. Eleanor and Babe had a falling out and Ruby had never even heard of her aunt until this trip. Eleanor is an Episcopalian nun living on a ranch. She is also dying of cancer. Eleanor and Joe Brewer, Babe's lawyer, are working to help Babe but things don't look good. Carl has turned evidence against her and she is looking at jail time. How will Ruby survive with a mom in jail and a dying aunt?It was kind of hard to place the time this book is set. If it is present day, then I have questions about why Eleanor was stigmatized and forced to give up a baby. That whole plot point sounded more 1950s than 2000s. I did love Ruby Clyde though. She was spunky and original and a lot of fun to read. I also loved the fact that she adopted/stole a pig and named him Bunny. I really didn't like Babe or the fact that she seemed completely incapable of being a mother to Ruby. Eleanor grew on me though. I appreciated her take on life. The ending left me a little iffy. I am just not sure I liked the resolution that happened or how some of the characters reacted. Not to give anything away, but Joe Brewer weirded me out a bit at the end. I received this book from Netgalley.
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  • Sydney
    July 25, 2017
    Love this new middle grade book! It's all things good about Southern fiction rolled up in a children's book with fantastic characters and an ADORABLE pet pig! This will be a classic children's favorite in no time.
  • Alexa
    March 12, 2017
    Ruby Clyde Henderson is an unassuming girl caught in a bad situation with her mother and mother's boyfriend, known as Catfish. She sneaks her way into your heart as she muddles her way through a bunch of bad situations--all pretty bad, but seen through Ruby Clyde's eyes they are survivable. Ruby Clyde picks up a number of people and animals to love her along the way, including Bunny the pig and Joe Brewer the lawyer. The amount of love for Ruby Clyde feels almost magical but you like her so much Ruby Clyde Henderson is an unassuming girl caught in a bad situation with her mother and mother's boyfriend, known as Catfish. She sneaks her way into your heart as she muddles her way through a bunch of bad situations--all pretty bad, but seen through Ruby Clyde's eyes they are survivable. Ruby Clyde picks up a number of people and animals to love her along the way, including Bunny the pig and Joe Brewer the lawyer. The amount of love for Ruby Clyde feels almost magical but you like her so much, you can't help but root for her anyway.
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  • K.L. Hallam
    December 9, 2016
    I received an ARC for an honest review. “I believe places can heal. I believe science can heal. I believe God can heal. And I believe my hands can heal. It is best to use all of the above to get maximum results.” Twelve-year-old, Ruby Clyde has a strong voice. She has a strong heart. She’s had to be the parent in the relationship with her mother. Her mother, like a child who needs caring for, and her stinky boyfriend Catfish winds up getting them all in deep trouble with the law. One morning, Ru I received an ARC for an honest review. “I believe places can heal. I believe science can heal. I believe God can heal. And I believe my hands can heal. It is best to use all of the above to get maximum results.” Twelve-year-old, Ruby Clyde has a strong voice. She has a strong heart. She’s had to be the parent in the relationship with her mother. Her mother, like a child who needs caring for, and her stinky boyfriend Catfish winds up getting them all in deep trouble with the law. One morning, Ruby wakes up to find she and her mother are being carted across the country, and her mother’s boyfriend, Catfish, whom she can’t stand, is in control. When he finds out her mother has a twin sister, who’s a nun, he wants to head over there and stay a while. But Ruby’s mother won’t have it. The sisters have been estranged for decades. Taking matters into his own hands, Catfish’s criminal mischief shocks Ruby and her mother to their cores and chaos ensues. In the scramble, Ruby stays hidden from the mayhem and finds herself alone. The pig they rescued from the IQ Zoo used its leash (nylon pantyhose) to drag her to safety. With nowhere to turn, Ruby decides to go undercover and find her mother’s twin sister. After finding her, Ruby learns that her mother’s been arrested and must go on trial. I found much to relate to in ALMOST PARADISE. Such a good story about what it’s like to feel abandoned and unloved. But Ruby is tough and she loves her mother, no matter what. We learn much about sacrifice from some of the secondary characters, like Ruby’s aunt Eleanor, the nun and the attorney John Brewster. Sprinkled throughout, are tidbits about the legal system and family court. Many references to faith and God, and I suppose with a nun as a major character that’s to be expected. There are delightful twists, and endearing characters, making this feel true and timely in these important times when children need solace and comfort from life’s hard knocks. And that ending had me in tears! “People heal each other, and it takes time.”THIS REVIEW IS ON THE KIDLITERATI BOG 12/12/16
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  • Elise
    December 9, 2016
    Almost Paradise is not so much a coming of age story as a coming to terms with your life story. Filled with pathos, humor, caring and coping every child whose parent is in prison or sick should be given this book. Every child whose parent got pregnant as a teen or is being raised by a single mom should read Almost Paradise.  The story opens with a roller coaster of action and emotion on Ruby Clyde's twelfth birthday. To say any more would spoil the surprises. But every male who thinks his action Almost Paradise is not so much a coming of age story as a coming to terms with your life story. Filled with pathos, humor, caring and coping every child whose parent is in prison or sick should be given this book. Every child whose parent got pregnant as a teen or is being raised by a single mom should read Almost Paradise.  The story opens with a roller coaster of action and emotion on Ruby Clyde's twelfth birthday. To say any more would spoil the surprises. But every male who thinks his actions and attitude don't make  a difference should think again. Ruby Clyde grabbed my heart on the first page and never let go. I was given this book as a YA advance copy and thought I'd read a couple chapters before bed. I couldn't turn off the light until I'd read the last word. Long live the Ruby Clydes of this world.
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  • Ms. Yingling
    October 27, 2016
    E ARC from Edelweiss Above the TreelineRuby Clyde's mother hasn't been quite right since Ruby's father was killed in a robbery, which sent her mother into premature labor. Because of this, Ruby never really celebrates her birthday, but this year she has bought her own cake. Unfortunately, her mother's boyfriend Catfish decides to take the two from their home and travel to California, stopping along the way to rob a convenience store. Catfish and Ruby's mother are arrested, and Ruby, along with a E ARC from Edelweiss Above the TreelineRuby Clyde's mother hasn't been quite right since Ruby's father was killed in a robbery, which sent her mother into premature labor. Because of this, Ruby never really celebrates her birthday, but this year she has bought her own cake. Unfortunately, her mother's boyfriend Catfish decides to take the two from their home and travel to California, stopping along the way to rob a convenience store. Catfish and Ruby's mother are arrested, and Ruby, along with a pet pig she stole, is on her own. Luckily, a woman she met at the campground where they were staying helps her locate an unknown aunt, Eleanor. Eleanor is an Episcopalian nun who has a farm where she cares for animals. She is also dying of cancer, but helps Ruby out. Eleanor lets Ruby live with her and helps get her mother a lighter sentence for the robbery, allowing Ruby some measure of security that she has lacked. In turn, Ruby tries to help Eleanor out by attempting to locate a child that Eleanor had to give up for adoption.Strengths: It's nice that Ruby finds supportive people to help her out, and the book is clearly on trend-- it's the fifth book in a row with a dead parent that I've read recently. Bonus points for the pet pig.Weaknesses: A dead father and then a dying aunt? Too sad for me. I did have a little trouble with the fact that Eleanor would have had to give her baby up for adoption in about 2003-- was there that much of a stigma at that point? And do Episcopalian nuns really wear habits? Didn't know that. Perhaps this was historical fiction and I missed it?What I really think: Just not my cup of tea. Certainly had funny moments, and was well written enough.
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