Tuesday, July 25, 2017

[Book Review] The Beat on Ruby's Street by Jenna Zark

Book Review of The Beat on Ruby's Street by Jenna Zark

The Beat on Ruby's Street by Jenna Zark is a book about Ruby Tabeata, an eleven-year-old living in Greenwich Village.

Full disclosure: I was given a free copy of this book by the author in exchange for an honest review. This did not affect my rating in any way. 

The Beat on Ruby's Street by Jenna Zark

The last thing eleven-year-old Ruby Tabeata expected to happen on her way to a Jack Kerouac reading was to be hauled to the police station.

It’s 1958 and Ruby is the opposite of a 1950s stereotype: fierce, funny and strong willed, she is only just starting to chart her course in a family of Beat Generation artists in Greenwich Village.

Ruby dreams of meeting famous poets while becoming one herself; instead, she’s accused of trying to steal fruit from a local vendor and is forced to live in a children’s home. As Ruby struggles to return to family and friends, she learns her only choice is to follow her heart.

Join Ruby’s journey as she finds unexpected friendships, the courage to rebel against unjust authority and the healing power of art in this inspiring middle-grade novel by Jenna Zark.

My thoughts:
I thought that this book was written very well, style wise! I really enjoyed how perfectly the author captured the persona of the eleven-year-old main character. The storyline flowed in a linear fashion over a seemingly short period of time.

My favorite feature of the book was that throughout the story the main character was always a rambling off a random fact, definition, or anything that she's learned from her teachers. This was written in a way that I felt was constantly backing up the fact that she has learned plenty in her nontraditional schooling.

I do wish that we had gotten more about the characters and their dynamics early on. The lack of family backstory made me feel lukewarm about the characters, especially when it came to the parents. But of course, if I had read this when I was in the targeted age group, I don't think that would have been an issue.

I also wish there had been more of a deeper explanation about the historical factor. I personally didn't take much away from this book in regard to the Beat poets.

While I did enjoy the read, I can't say it was exactly in my wheelhouse. I would still recommend this book to others, but I personally wouldn't pick it up again. I gave it three stars.

I would recommend this book to readers that really enjoy quick, realistic middle grade stories with a focus on personal growth, family problems, and poetry.

My favorite passages:
The night I saw it, someone said the lights made it look like a pearl necklace, which I wrote down in my notebook. If you want to be any kind of writer, you should always have a notebook with you.

It's really hard getting Ray to worry. He's a lot like Gary Daddy-o, who says while everything matters, nothing matters very much. I think that's another one of those Zen sayings. What it really means is if you want to get through life without falling apart, you can't let every flippy little thing get to you.

"Oh, yeah. Sure," I say like it was nothing, but my heart's going so fast I'm sure he can hear it.

It's funny how something can look pretty good until you see it with someone else's eyes.

It's the ugliest budding on the block, wide and squat, and if it had a color you wouldn't know it. I think it's yellow, but it could easily be gray.

I think Nell-mom can sense what I'm feeling because she asks, "Are you okay?"
I lick my lips, trying to decide I feel like the lady in King Kong when he picks her up and shakes her while he's walking through the jungle. When he finally puts her down, it must have been strange to be standing on the ground again. But how do I say that?

Thanks for reading!


  1. Great review Erica, I don't think this one is my type of read either. Even though I do love reading middle grade books. Thank you so much for the awesome post Erica.