cover image The Search for Baby Ruby

The Search for Baby Ruby

Susan Shreve. Scholastic/Levine, $16.99 (224p) ISBN 978-0-545-41783-9

The members of 12-year-old Jess’s fragmented family reunite for her oldest sister’s wedding in Los Angeles, but the joyous event turns sour when Jess’s baby niece, Ruby, goes missing while Jess is babysitting her. Wracked with guilt, Jess vows to find Ruby, but it’s too daunting a task to accomplish on her own. She solicits the help of 15-year-old middle sister Teddy, the black sheep of the family whose shoplifting has landed her in reform school. The two amateur detectives make some headway putting together clues, but then Jess also disappears. Shreve (The Lovely Shoes) offers a chilling premise, but much of the plot feels manufactured with clues falling too easily in place, and the actions and reactions of characters sometimes ringing false; that the sisters take as long as they do to alert the authorities and their own family of Ruby’s disappearance strikes a blow to the story’s believability from the outset. Still, the novel is tense and fast-paced, which—along with the innate scariness of the kidnapping—will be enough to hook many readers. Ages 8–12. (May)