cover image Thirteen Doorways, Wolves Behind Them All

Thirteen Doorways, Wolves Behind Them All

Laura Ruby. HarperCollins/Balzer + Bray, $17.99 (384p) ISBN 978-0-06-231764-3

This evocative tale entwines the lives of two young women—one living, one dead—in Chicago on the cusp of WWII. In 1941, 14-year-old promising artist Frankie Mazza; her younger sister, Toni; and their older brother, Vito, are “half-orphans”—children left at orphanages by parents struggling financially. The nuns can be strict, even injurious, and the sisters are further abandoned when their father remarries and moves to Colorado, taking only Vito and his new wife’s children along. Narrator Pearl Brownlow, a ghost who died when she was not much older than Frankie, haunts Chicago’s streets and the orphanage, reflecting on Frankie’s life and her own. As Pearl slowly comes to terms with the shocking events that preceded her death, she watches Frankie fall in love and experience devastating loss, and witnesses the sisters’ eventual return to their father and his horrible new family. Printz winner Ruby (Bone Gap) creates a dreamlike rendering of Pearl’s afterlife that contrasts with Frankie’s stark, historically detailed circumstances. Though a slow unspooling may frustrate some, the women’s resonant journeys, marked by desire and betrayal, thoughtfully illuminate the deep harm that women and girls suffer at the hands of a patriarchal society as well as the importance of living fully. Ages 14–up. [em](Oct.) [/em]