Ruby Holler by Sharon Creech
Siblings Dallas and Florida have lived in an awful orphanage with horrific caretakers their entire lives, dreaming of being adopted. It never happened, and as the oldest children still there, they didn’t think it would… until the summer where an older couple (with already grown children) needed companionship so they sort of ‘rent’ the children. Taking the children to their valley, Ruby Holler, changes the couple and the children for the better. Dallas and Florida leave behind abuse, neglect, and distrust in exchange for love, hope and freedom–but it isn’t an easy transition for children who have always been suspicious, nor for Tiller and Sairy, parents who have always been kind. An adventure, a mystery, and what defines family all
inhabit this young adult novel.
So: sidekicks. The brother and sister are each other’s sidekicks. They know everything about each other, all of their shared past, secrets, strengths, and weaknesses. When the story is featuring Dallas’s point of view, Florida is my favorite sidekick. When the story shifts to Florida, Dallas is my favorite sidekick. They are close-knit family as well as best friends. Their secretive pacts and signals are intense; I love the idea of friends so close that I might know their essence, their actions–their being.
This is a touching story, and almost magical in the way it can spark hope for humanity when things are at the most dire.