Linda Urban’s The Center Of Everything is one of those delightful read-in-a-single-sitting sorts of children’s books that blends several interesting elements. I was initially interested in Urban’s latest book because A) I am not as well read in the middle grade contemporary genre as I would like to be and B) donuts play a fairly large role and I just love donuts. Thankfully, The Center Of Everything definitely delivers on it’s wonderful premise and is a pleasant read, on the whole.
Ruby Pepperdine has a big task ahead of her. This year she has been selected as the Essay Girl for Bunning Day, an event in Bunning, New Hampshire that celebrates both donuts and sea Captain Bunning, who basically invented donuts — at least according to The Center Of Everything. Unfortunately, Ruby is on the outs with her best friend Lucy and new friend Nero. She is hoping that by using her twelfth birthday wish, things will go back to normal. Or, at least the way it was when she would stargaze from the rooftop of Pepperdine Motors with her now-deceased grandmother, Gigi.
Ruby Pepperdine is a likable young heroine. She is the sort of person who is reliable, those who know Ruby know that they can depend on her to be sensible and level headed. Ruby is the sort who believes in ‘supposed to’. However, Ruby is dealing with a lot of grief and pain. Rather than reach out to her friends and family for help, she turns her grief inward. Urban works this larger issue in seamlessly and rather than be depressed by Ruby, children will empathize with her, and feel ultimately rewarded by the changes and development Ruby undergoes.
At it’s heart, The Center Of Everything by Linda Urban seems to be a novel about friendship. Ruby spends much of the book worrying about her friendships with Lucy and Nero. Lucy has been Ruby’s best friend for a very long time. Unfortunately, she is quite cross with Ruby, which is hard on Ruby. What further exacerbates this is that Ruby has also messed things up with Nero — a character who has the potential of being a wonderful friend to her. Will the three resolve their issues? Will Ruby’s wish come true? You’ll have to read this or buy it for your child to find out.
Urban’s writing style has a way of drawing the reader in. The Center Of Everything was a very quickly paced read that I did not want to put down. Granted, I am older than the target range for this book. Yet, even I found that as an adult I could connect with Ruby’s love for her extended family and how deeply she cares for her friends. I found the inclusion of donut lore to be a fun addition to the book as well — I quite like reading about food.
I would recommend The Center Of Everything by Linda Urban to the 7-13 year old age range, however, it is also a generally good read. You don’t have to be in that age range to enjoy it, but I think it will find the most traction with that age group. This is recommended for readers who like real life situations with a twist of the extraordinary, and quirky characters who value community.
Disclosure: Received for review via Amazon Vine
Other reviews of The Center Of Everything by Linda Urban:
GreenBeanTeenQueen – “a gentle story of family and friendship”
The Late Bloomer’s Book Blog – “Linda Urban writes beautifully”