An Indigenous woman adopted by white parents goes in search of her identity in this unforgettable debut novel about family, race, and history.
Finalist for the Governor General's Literary Award • “Engaging . . . Ruby never disappoints with her big heart and outrageous sense of humor—and her resilient search for her own history.”—The New York Times Book Review
“A passionate exploration of identity and belonging and a celebration of our universal desire to love and be loved.”—Imbolo Mbue, author of Behold the Dreamers
This is the story of a woman in search of herself, in every sense. When we first meet Ruby, a Métis woman in her thirties, her life is spinning out of control. She’s angling to sleep with her counselor while also rekindling an old relationship she knows will only bring more heartache. But as we soon learn, Ruby’s story is far more complex than even she can imagine.
Given up for adoption as an infant, Ruby is raised by a white couple who understand little of her Indigenous heritage. This is the great mystery that hovers over Ruby’s life—who her people are and how to reconcile what is missing. As the novel spans time and multiple points of view, we meet the people connected to Ruby: her birth parents and grandparents; her adoptive parents; the men and women Ruby has been romantically involved with; a beloved uncle; and Ruby’s children. Taken together, these characters form a kaleidoscope of stories, giving Ruby’s life dignity and meaning.
Probably Ruby is a dazzling novel about a bold, unapologetic woman taking control of her life and story, and marks the debut of a major new voice in Indigenous fiction.
The moving if somewhat disjointed latest from Saskatchewan M tis and n hiyaw poet Bird-Wilson (The Red Files) pieces together scenes from the life of a troubled and spirited woman. The protagonist, daughter of two teenagers, one M tis and one white, is adopted by a white couple and grows up in western Canada with the name Ruby Valentine. She copes with feeling disconnected from her adopted family and from her ancestral origins by drinking excessively and with a series of doomed relationships. The author flips back and forth through Ruby's unhappy childhood and unfulfilling visits with her birth family, with each chapter dedicated to a different character in her "relationship web." There's her birth father, who died in a car wreck when Ruby was a child; her mother, who was forced by the state to surrender her baby; her grandfather, who endured horrors at a residential school for Indigenous children; and several others. Each chapter is vivid and contains a satisfying resolution, though the whole occasionally frustrates, as it seems designed for an overarching narrative but doesn't quite cohere. Still, the fragmented nature lends a sense of verisimilitude to this painful story of a fractured family history, and readers will be carried along by Ruby's vitality and perseverance. This is well worth a look.