What You Need to Know:|
• A young girl reflects on friendship, her relationship with her grandmother, and how to right a wrong.
• Coping with the loss of a loved one is explored in a delicate and sensitive manner.
• One of the characters refers to her "two dads" although no additional details are provided.
• The whole story takes place on one day, with flashbacks to various events over the previous year.
• Short chapters keep the story moving quickly.
• Reading this book may lead to a craving for donuts!
The Center of Everything is one of those books that makes you step outside the world you know and see it from a different angle. It may be a slight shift in perspective, but it's enough to leave its mark. It's not action-packed or adventure-filled, but it's brimming with ideas and interesting characters. It raises questions about destiny, signs, wishes, fate, and regrets, and how these things relate to family, friendship and community.
The story centers around 12-year-old Ruby Pepperdine as she celebrates Bunning Day in her small New Hampshire town. In fact, the whole story takes place on this day, but the chapters alternate between the present and events that took place over the previous year. All around her, people are celebrating Captain Bunning and his role in the creation of the donut, while Ruby reflects on the loss of her grandmother, Gigi, and how it has impacted her life. Not only does Ruby mourn for her, but she also regrets the way she handled things the last time they were together. Since that moment, she has been going about life like it's business as usual, but inside she's been feeling like she's "underwater".
Things might have continued that way indefinitely, but slowly, beginning with a boy in her class named Nero, little incidents begin to penetrate the safe place that Ruby has made for herself, and she begins to deal with her grief. The realities of life, including her busy family, her sometimes thoughtless friend, Lucy, her unexpected connection to Nero, and her surprising selection as the "Essay Girl" for the Bunning Day parade, both help and hinder her progress, making Ruby's story all the more relatable and realistic.
As the story includes the point of view of people other than Ruby, there are a number of different characters to remember. That's a good thing in this case, because they're all relevant and their relationships are interesting. Ruby's friendship with Lucy is complicated, her relationship with Nero is intriguing, and her memories of her grandmother are warm and tender. Although The Center of Everything deals with a sad topic, it's actually more uplifting than it is sad.
2013, 208 pages
Community, Family Life, Friendship, Illness/Death, Grandparents
• Why is Bunning Day so important in this community?
• How is Ruby affected by Gigi's death?
• Who was your favorite character in the story?
• What would you wish for if your coin had gone through Captain Bunning's donut, like Ruby's did?
• Is Lucy a good friend to Ruby? Why or why not?
• How do Lucy and Nero differ in the way they relate to Ruby?
• If Ruby could go back and change the way things happened the day Gigi died, would it make things any better?
• What do you think of Ruby's idea that there is no such thing as "supposed to"?
• Could Ruby's parents have done anything differently to help her through this difficult time?
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