Jess O’Fines was a “Save-the-Marriage Baby,” and she failed at that once her parents divorced when she was seven years old. Now she’s twelve, and she has failed again. While she was supposed to be babysitting her niece, Baby Ruby, someone stole the baby from the Brambles Hotel room in Los Angeles where the family—in all of its dysfunction—had gathered to celebrate the wedding of the eldest O’Fines daughter. To be anything other than admired and loved, helpful and cooperative, or responsible and unselfish is out of character for Jess, according to her sister, Teddy. But perhaps Jess is just tired of playing the part of the good daughter in the O’Fines family the way Teddy plays the part of the bad one.
Because of her compulsion to shoplift, Teddy, a kleptomaniac, gets “dispatched to the Harrisonwood Reform School to be reassembled as an ordinary, normal fifteen-year-old girl” (30). Before the Home for Girls with Problems separated them, Jess and Teddy filled their idle time while their mother dated—leaving them alone and unsupervised—playing Sleuth LLC, a game in which they stage and solve crimes. With this crime-solving experience and her ability to remember places for how they smell, Jess decides to find the kidnapped baby on her own.
Now two members of the family are missing, and this “high-spirited, noisy, joyful, outspoken family” (39) begins to turn on one another. In this time of distress, Teddy takes charge. Despite her nature to worry, her predisposition for panic attacks, and her general pessimism, Teddy rises to the occasion of her family’s disaster and holds her family together.
In The Search for Baby Ruby, a mystery for tweens by Susan Shreve, members of the O’Fines family make discoveries—about choices, the power of saying no, and what it means to be a family in crisis. Whether they find the missing girls will be the reader’s discovery.
- Posted by Donna