Cover image for Thirteen doorways, wolves behind them all
Title:
Thirteen doorways, wolves behind them all
ISBN:
9780062317643
Edition:
1st ed.
Physical Description:
365 pages ; 22 cm.
Summary:
When Frankie's mother died and her father left her and her siblings at an orphanage in Chicago, it was supposed to be only temporary - just long enough for him to get back on his feet and be able to provide for them once again. That's why she is not prepared for the day that he arrives for his weekend visit with a new woman on his arm and out-of-state train tickets in his pocket. Now Frankie and her sister, Toni, are abandoned alongside so many other orphans, two young, unwanted women doing everything they can to survive. And as the embers of the Great Depression are kindled into the fires of World War II, and the shadows of injustice, poverty, and death walk the streets in broad daylight, Frankie must find something worth holding on to in the ruins of this shattered America - every minute of every day spent wondering if the life she's able to carve out will be enough. I will admit I do not know if it will be. But I will be watching, waiting to find out. That's what ghosts do. --
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Summary

Summary

National Book Award 2019 Finalist!

From the author of Printz Medal winner Bone Gap comes the unforgettable story of two young women--one living, one dead--dealing with loss, desire, and the fragility of the American dream during WWII.

When Frankie's mother died and her father left her and her siblings at an orphanage in Chicago, it was supposed to be only temporary--just long enough for him to get back on his feet and be able to provide for them once again. That's why Frankie's not prepared for the day that he arrives for his weekend visit with a new woman on his arm and out-of-state train tickets in his pocket.

Now Frankie and her sister, Toni, are abandoned alongside so many other orphans--two young, unwanted women doing everything they can to survive.

And as the embers of the Great Depression are kindled into the fires of World War II, and the shadows of injustice, poverty, and death walk the streets in broad daylight, it will be up to Frankie to find something worth holding on to in the ruins of this shattered America--every minute of every day spent wondering if the life she's able to carve out will be enough.

I will admit I do not know the answer. But I will be watching, waiting to find out.

That's what ghosts do.


Author Notes

Laura Ruby writes fiction for adults, young adults, and children. Her works include Good Girls, Play Me, Bad Apple, Lily's Ghosts, The Wall and the Wing, The Chaos King, the York Trilogy, and a collection of interconnected short stories about blended families for adults entitled I'm Not Julia Roberts. She won the 2016 Michael L. Printz Award for Bone Gap. She teaches at Hamline University's Masters in Writing for Children Program.

(Bowker Author Biography)


Reviews 5

School Library Journal Review

Gr 9 Up--Ruby's first young adult novel since her Printz Award--winning Bone Gap is a feminist historical ghost story that is based on the author's mother-in-law's childhood experiences in a World War II--era Chicago orphanage. In 1941, after losing his wife and struggling to support his family, Frankie's Italian immigrant father "temporarily" sends his three adolescent children to a Catholic orphanage. However, he soon remarries and moves away, taking only one of his children. Frankie and her sister, Toni, are left under the watch of the iron-fisted nuns with their oppressive rules. Frankie dreams of growing her hair past her ears, becoming an artist, and falling in love. She never suspects that someone unseen is actually watching over her and longing to protect her: the ghost of a teenage girl, Pearl, dead since 1918, who haunts the orphanage. As Frankie wishes for freedom, Pearl longs to have an impact on the physical world. And Pearl, like Frankie, has been let down by her family, been treated as a commodity, and suffered great loss. Each girl draws strength from her hardships, however, and refuses to submit to those who would control her. Some sexual content and brief, yet disturbing descriptions of violence make this title most appropriate for older readers. VERDICT Powerful plotting, masterful character development, and a unique narrative device set this work apart. Make room on the shelf next to Code Name Verity and The Book Thief.--Liz Overberg, Zionsville Community High School, IN


Publisher's Weekly Review

This evocative tale entwines the lives of two young women--one living, one dead--in Chicago on the cusp of WWII. In 1941, 14-year-old promising artist Frankie Mazza; her younger sister, Toni; and their older brother, Vito, are "half-orphans"--children left at orphanages by parents struggling financially. The nuns can be strict, even injurious, and the sisters are further abandoned when their father remarries and moves to Colorado, taking only Vito and his new wife's children along. Narrator Pearl Brownlow, a ghost who died when she was not much older than Frankie, haunts Chicago's streets and the orphanage, reflecting on Frankie's life and her own. As Pearl slowly comes to terms with the shocking events that preceded her death, she watches Frankie fall in love and experience devastating loss, and witnesses the sisters' eventual return to their father and his horrible new family. Printz winner Ruby (Bone Gap) creates a dreamlike rendering of Pearl's afterlife that contrasts with Frankie's stark, historically detailed circumstances. Though a slow unspooling may frustrate some, the women's resonant journeys, marked by desire and betrayal, thoughtfully illuminate the deep harm that women and girls suffer at the hands of a patriarchal society as well as the importance of living fully. Ages 14--up. (Oct.)


Horn Book Review

At first, this seems to be the story of Frankie, a girl in a Catholic orphanage in Chicago in the 1940s. She and her sister and brother are abandoned there when her father remarries, and Frankie suffers under the nuns' regime, but she also makes friends, grows up, and, eventually, falls into forbidden, passionate love-a relationship that America's entry into World War II puts in jeopardy. But Frankie's story is just one thread in a more expansive tale, that of the ghostly narrator Pearl, who observes Frankie but also tells us of her own doings as she floats around Chicago. In tiny increments, she reveals her dreadful history; the novel is as much about her spiritual healing as it is about Frankie's coming of age. Pearl's world-weary wisdom and moral outrage come through clearly as she interacts with other ghosts-victims of America's misogyny, racism, and social and economic inequities. In addition, Pearl seems to have unusual access to information: about the atomic bomb, Nazi death camps, and more. The story's momentum, logic, and focus thus wobble a bit, but Ruby's message is clear: America is a precarious and threatening place, dealing as much in cruelty and injustice as it does in fulfilled dreams of family, love, and security. Deirdre F. Baker November/December 2019 p.98(c) Copyright 2019. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.


Kirkus Review

A ghost girl's narration weaves her own story with that of a tenacious orphan in World War II-era Chicago.Teenage Frankie's story is no more or less tragic than that of any other young person at her German Catholic orphanage: That is, it's heartbreaking. She and her two siblings have a father who brings them gifts but claims he can't afford to take them home and who eventually abandons them for a new family. But Frankie's tenacious grip on hope draws attention from both her fellow orphans, including a beautiful, gentle boy with whom she shares an illicit prewar romance, and Pearl, the book's ghost narrator, whose own tragic story slowly unfurls alongside Frankie's. Pearl's narration elevates an already-poignant story to a complex, bittersweet examination of why "girls were punished so hard for their love, so hard, hard enough to break them." There is no escape from pain or death in this narrativefrom the wolf waiting behind every doorbut there is the suggestion that it's worth the risk to open them all wide anyway. Pearl and Frankie are white (Frankie's parents were Italian immigrants), but many secondary characters, memorably an African American ghost named Marguerite and a Chinese love interest for Pearl, are racially diverse.A layered, empathetic examination of the ghosts inside all girls' lives, full of historical realism and timeless feeling. (author's note) (Historical fantasy. 14-adult) Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.


Booklist Review

It's 1941 and Chicago is full of ghosts. Ghosts reliving their traumatic deaths; ghosts seeking revenge; ghosts enjoying the lakeshore; and ghosts that quietly (and sometimes not so quietly) observe the living. One such living girl is Frankie, who's stuck in an orphanage with her sister, Toni, because their father can't afford (or doesn't want) to take care of them. The ghost narrating Printz winner Ruby's (Bone Gap, 2015) enchanting latest watches Frankie make friends, resent her father, fear the cruelty of the nuns, enjoy secret sweet moments with a boy, and try to keep her sister out of trouble. Frankie's gradual coming of age, with all its joy and heartbreak, is the core of the story, but told alongside the many stories of the ghosts on the margins, who experience joy and heartbreak of their own, it takes on ever more depth. Ruby's delicate, powerful storytelling it's as if each word carries deliberate weight draws out potent connections among women living in different eras, and the places where their stories overlap captivatingly demonstrate the varied ways anger, love, strength, vengeance, and forgiveness appear. If that sounds esoteric, never fear: Ruby's well-wrought, multifaceted characters, both living and dead, are front and center of this moving novel. But the constellation collectively shaped by those characters' stories reveals profound, bewitching truths about the vast, sometimes cruel, sometimes loving, possibilities of human nature. Subtle and stunning.--Sarah Hunter Copyright 2019 Booklist