School Library Journal
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Gr 8 Up-As in Good Girls (HarperTempest, 2006), Ruby explores how technology affects the high school social landscape. When the story starts, green-haired artist Tola Riley has already been falsely accused of an illicit involvement with her art teacher. Mr. Mymer is out of school pending an investigation, and rumors are circulating among classmates, particularly at an anonymously administered Web site called thetruthabouttolariley.com. Comments by classmates, school administrators, and family members appear after each chapter, giving readers a diverse set of perspectives on Tola's situation. The teen is an unusual and likable narrator. She is sarcastic and frustrated with her environment without seeming overly downcast or self-absorbed, and her passion for art and fairy tales is genuine and appealing. Her harried mother, patient grandparents, and emotionally unstable sister are equally well drawn. Seven, her romantic interest (who also likes fairy tales and slipping cupcakes into Tola's locker), is a bit too perfect and too flat to be believed. The villain emerges as one of the most compelling characters; it is clear from her blog comments that she enjoys exploiting the perceived insecurities of strangers, and that her spreading rumors is as much about relishing chaos as it is about hurting her former friend. Tola's friendships, family situation, status at school, and understanding of the truth all change in subtle but appreciable ways over the course of the novel. Artists, compassionate teens, and readers who enjoyed Good Girls will laugh, hurt, and roll their eyes along with this witty individualist of a heroine and her friends and supporters.-Megan Honig, New York Public Library (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.
High school junior Tola (short for Cenerentola) is a determinedly iconoclastic artist, who sees little point in school outside her art class led by the nonconformist art teacher Mr. Mymer. A spiteful classmate spreads false rumors about Tola and Mr. Mymer, and the teacher loses his job as a result. But plot is not what drives this clever, sardonic character study. Tola and her family are fascinating, quirky-yet-believable, and wholly likable. Ruby works in traditional fairy tale elements (an evil stepmother, abandonment, Tola's name that references the Italian version of Cinderella) with wry humor. Short chapters titled comments offer documentary-style quotes from other characters, so we see Tola's world through others' eyes. Ruby's thoughtful descriptions of art, artists, and the creative process are reminiscent of Brock Cole's Celine (1989). Visual artists will love this homage to creativity, and teens outside the status quo will find a kindred spirit in plucky Tola.--Carton, Debbie Copyright 2009 Booklist
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Tola insists that nothing happened with her art teacher, but nobody seems to believe the high school junior, from her mother (who insists Mr. Mymer "took advantage of my daughter, a vulnerable young girl") to the vicious readers of a gossip blog called "The Truth About Tola Riley." Their collective disbelief leaves Tola wondering, "Am I so small, so insignificant that my own story doesn't need me anymore?" Readers will feel like Tola is hiding something, however, and will quickly become engrossed in piecing together what really happened. Ruby (Play Me) parcels out her story slowly, as Tola documents her relationship with Mr. Mymer, who has been suspended from teaching, as well as her family's mounting problems. To fill in details, chapters end with "comments" from other characters, from her mostly absent father to a former friend who uses the Web to spread pain. Readers will likely find the fairy tales Tola is obsessed with to be a clunky device, especially as the book reaches its conclusion; otherwise this is a creatively constructed story with a modern-day scandal layered on top of more traditional teen troubles. Ages 12-up. (Oct.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved