Thirteen Doorways, Wolves Behind Them All by Laura Ruby

I received this galley in consideration for an honest review.

Thirteen Doorways, Wolves Behind Them All by Laura RubyThirteen Doorways, Wolves Behind Them All by Laura Ruby
Published by Harper Collins on October 1, 2019
Genres: Young Adult, Paranormal

When Frankie’s mother died and her father left her and her siblings at an orphanage in Chicago, it was supposed to be only temporary—just long enough for him to get back on his feet and be able to provide for them once again. That’s why Frankie's not prepared for the day that he arrives for his weekend visit with a new woman on his arm and out-of-state train tickets in his pocket.

Now Frankie and her sister, Toni, are abandoned alongside so many other orphans—two young, unwanted women doing everything they can to survive.

And as the embers of the Great Depression are kindled into the fires of World War II, and the shadows of injustice, poverty, and death walk the streets in broad daylight, it will be up to Frankie to find something worth holding on to in the ruins of this shattered America—every minute of every day spent wondering if the life she's able to carve out will be enough.

All I had to hear was “the narrator is a ghost” and I was very excited about reading this book.  Laura Ruby books are always unique, but never to be missed. Thirteen Doorways was a read-in-one-sitting, give-you-a-hangover type book. Frankie, like many kids in the Depression era, was dropped off at an orphanage with her two siblings when her father simply couldn’t feed them.  An order of nuns keeps them fed, educated and sometimes beaten, but all of the girls find ways to keep their connection to who they were before the orphanage. The narrator is sometimes chaotic and often heartbreaking. For reasons unknown, she has taken an interest in Frankie and we learn about Frankie’s life at the orphanage as well as the terrible echos that other ghosts leave behind.

The two girls are separated by a generation and by class, yet their value to society is basically the same: commodification, humiliation, and dismissal.  The secrets they hold, hold them to their respective emotional prisons, but it is in Frankie’s life that we see someone who reaches for her own meaning, and repeatedly grasps only air.  The wolves, of course,  are all of the things that women and girls experience behind each desire, each phase, each doorway in their life.  It struck me how a historical novel can feel so relevant to present time. As sad as this books sounds, and there are some very sad parts, I would say that it is a story of resilience.

Laura Ruby’s writing is extraordinary in the way to draws you in and then exposes all of the small pains and big joys of life.  Thirteen Doorways has a fascinating story structure, but the historical details create a world that is often awful, but contains unimaginable hope.


About Laura Ruby

Raised in the wilds of suburban New Jersey, Laura Ruby now lives in Chicago with her family. Her short fiction for adults has appeared in various literary magazines, including Other Voices, The Florida Review, Sycamore Review and Nimrod. Currently, she is working on several thousand projects, drinking way too much coffee, and searching for new tunes for her iPod.

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