Choosing the right books to review is a difficulty I did not expect when I started blogging. If I had to choose again, I don’t know whether I would have agreed to review this book. Not because it’s a bad book, but just because I don’t think it is the right book for me and my blog.
The Beat on Ruby’s Street by Jenna Zark is about Ruby, a young girl from Greenwich Village with an interest in poetry. She has her own troubles, but thanks to the amazing poetry of people like Jack Kerouac, she is able to cope. This summary describes the book and also shows with which information I agreed to this review. However, when I started reading the book was very different from what I expected.
For example, Ruby is eleven, turning twelve. That is a very young age for the main character, especially if you want to discuss complex things like poetry and the Beat generation. To me, an older character, just a few years older, might have given me something more to work with because it was very difficult to me to take Ruby seriously on some of her interests.
I was also hoping this book would be a kind of fictional introduction to the Beat poets, but the focus was much more on Ruby and her own problems than on the culture I hoped to learn more about. Which is okay, dealing for social workers is also an interesting subject for a book, it’s just not the subject I expected.
Ruby’s age is also a difficulty when it comes to style. Twelve years old can be a hard age to write about, especially if you write first person, because you deal with young people who might already know quite a lot, but also still have big gaps in their knowledge. You can see Zark struggling to find the right balance, but I think she did a good job. Ruby is a smart kid but she doesn’t know or understand everything, which is good. This book is a quick read, with a relaxed and straightforward style.
But you see, on this blog I try to focus on literary fiction. I thought this book would meet this description, but it turned out to be more of a kind of Young Adult book. Which is fine, a lot of people enjoy that genre. It’s just not the kind of book I personally like, or why I started this blog. I hope I was still able to give a review of this book that reflects its good points, even though it isn’t a genre I would personally prefer.