Saturday, July 27, 2019

Summer Reading 2019 Fool's Errand

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Safely back with her mother after a short time spent in a group home, Ruby is trying to adjust to the recent changes in her life. Due to the social worker that took Ruby away from her parents, the entire family is now split up. Ruby's mother married a friend in order to provide a more stable home life, while her father spends even more time on the road with his band. Her older brother Ray is home only between gigs with their father's band, and even when he is in town he is often out with his new girlfriend. Ruby has grown even closer to her best friend Sophie during all the upheaval, including the transition to attending public school.

But Sophie has problems of her own, since her mother has been blacklisted as a communist sympathizer and cannot find work (writing scripts for TV and stage). And after their last day of school, Sophie and Mrs. Tanya disappear. Mrs. T as Ruby calls her, is trying to avoid testifying before the House UnAmerican Activities Committee, because she knows they will demand that she give the names of other writers or industry friends who may have attended a Communist meeting or shown sympathy to their cause. Ruby reflects that, "Mainly I think Congress believes everyone in Russia has cooties...And Congress doesn’t want Americans to get them." It may seem that she is downplaying the serious situation, but for a 12-year-old with Beat generation parents, it probably does seem as though the committee members are some sort of playground bullies. And the sporadic letters (with no return addresses), only tell Ruby enough about Sophie's situation to make her very frightened for her friend.

Readers will be amazed at the details packed into the story - the sights, sounds, and even smells of the Village in 1958 fill Ruby's life. Along with the descriptions of Italian ice flavors and the music of corner street buskers in the Village, the author also adds in layers of racial relations. Ruby's brother Ray met Jo-Jo "while she was waitressing at the restaurant where her mom works. She said other customers don’t even see her when they order and he looked her right in the eye and smiled." Being treated as invisible because her parents are Chinese is something that Jo-Jo is used to, just as Ruby's friend Bo is accustomed to being treated differently because he is a black man. His determination to join the Civil Rights activists in Mississippi has all his friends afraid for his safety.

Amidst all the change and unrest, can Ruby possibly find Sophie and make sure she is safe?

For fans of historical fiction, Fool's Errand is an option to explore for the scene in Greenwich Village in the late 1950s, the state of racial inequity, and the climate of fear created by the HUAC Blacklist. Recommended for ages 10+. I read an e-book provided by the publisher for review purposes.


  1. Jenna is a fantástic write with insite Visión and most of all her stories have a great deal to say and move you with Bravo Jenna

  2. Fabulous job to a wonderful writer.Terrific...CANTOR Mitch