THE BEAT ON RUBY’S STREET: A story for teens, pre-teens and everyone, A Review

Jenna Zark’s (author of A Body of Water) 2013 publication taught me more about the Beat Generation, Beatniks of the 1950s, and especially about “Beat Poetry” than I learned in an undergraduate class on Modern Poetry, which explored the subject. It is a fine book told from the point of Ruby, an eleven-going-on-twelve year old girl who lives in The Village in New York. She seems to be a “typical”pre-teen who has a “typical” cat, Solange.  Her mother, Nell, aka “Little Nell” is an artist, and her father, Gerard, aka “Gary-Daddy-O” is often on the road, playing bass. As Ruby tells us about The Beat Generation, “When it first  started, it was about people who were” beat up and fed up by the”System”, aka “The Man.”  Ruby had been making up poems by age four and writing them down by age seven. Her idol is Jack Kerouac, whom she describes is “…not a poet but writes like one.”

Ruby has a fourteen year old brother,Ray, who plays sax and often substitutes with his dad’s band, earning the adults’ respect and admiration for his playing skills. When Ruby gets in trouble on the “street,” she is sent to the police station, and Mrs. Levitt, a social worker steps in, setting in motion an investigation into her unmarried parents and her “home environment.” What follows in the story leads to Ruby becoming involved in a hunger strike at a children’s home in Brooklyn, where she is aided and abetted by her new friend, Manuela.

As she approaches her twelfth birthday day, she could never have imagined the changes in her life, attitude, and maturity or how things could change so quickly.  Through it all, she has her poetry (quite good, and interspersed throughout the novel) to sustain her and comes to the conclusion that “Poetry isn’t really good for anything except it makes you feel better.” Although the book explores the angst of “typical teen” misunderstanding and feelings that friends (and parents) don’t understand, Ruby, street-smart and talented,   is NOT a typical teen in a time and era definitely not “typical” either.

The author supplies questions for discussions suitable for book clubs, junior high English and history classes and anyone interested in the literary contributions to American literature from the “Beat Poets/Generation.”

Author: Rae Longest

This year (2019) finds me with 50 years of teaching "under my belt." I have taught all levels from pre-K "(library lady" or "book lady"--volunteer) to juniors, seniors, and graduate students enrolled in my Advanced Writing class at the university where I have just completed 30 years. My first paying teaching job was junior high, and I spent 13 years with ages 12-13, the "difficult years." I had some of the "funnest" experiences with this age group. When I was no longer the "young, fun teacher," I taught in an elementary school setting before sixth graders went on to junior high, teaching language arts blocs, an assignment that was a "dream-fit" for me. After completing graduate school in my 40s, I went on to community college, then university teaching. Just as teaching is "in my blood," so is a passion for reading, writing, libraries, and everything bookish. This blog will be open to anyone who loves books, promotes literacy and wants to "come out and play."

5 thoughts on “THE BEAT ON RUBY’S STREET: A story for teens, pre-teens and everyone, A Review”

  1. Thank you for an interesting review about a book set in a particular historical time and context. It is one of those times that has been rather neglected and is important as it feeds into our own ideas and opinions about world affairs and politics even though most of the jargon is outdated.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. A big hug rightbackatcha. We are fine, and for us the worse may be done and over. The storm went out in the Gulf, intensified and hit us again. It has gone on to the northeast at the moment, so all is relatively calm. We went for a walk outside although it was still quite windy and spitting raindrops, and the only disarming thing is that the drains on the sides of the roads are up to the grating. At least it is out of the driveway now, and it never did come in the house…yet. We shall see when all Houston’s floodwaters drain down through Alvin into the Gulf of Mexico. We are so blessed. Some of our close friends have not been so fortunate.

    Like

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