Review | Tuesday 11 September 2012
For Ru Jenkins, who is shortly to turn 13, life is half a dream and half an increasingly tricky reality. High school, being a nearly-teen and living with two busy working parents provide the usual challenges but Ru has always had Arkie to turn to. That is, until the cool crowd at school unexpectedly invite Ru to hang out with them. Arkie can tell it's a bad idea but Ru gets swept along. She alone must decide when enough is enough.
It's all the more exciting when a self-published novel turns out to be polished and highly enjoyable. Amy Han, a Melbourne author, has created a very likeable character in dreamy, shy, quirky Ru. So it's no surprise to the reader when the popular boy she has a crush on likes her back, but for Ru it seems too good to be true. First crush versus loyalty to your female friends is sensitively explored here. Ru is a great role-model even if she doesn't think so.
Ru's voice is what Lauren Child's Lola (Charlie and Lola) might sound like when she's 12 and has lost her pre-school determination and discovered tween self-consciousness. Ru is charming; a perfect mix of insightful and slightly daft. Early on the plot feels as aimless as a sunny Saturday with no fixed plans, and we drift along with Ru quite happily, but the pace steps up when Ru faces some tough choices.
Ru Dreaming is a gorgeous, easy read for 10-13 year old girls who like Cathy Cassidy and Marianne Musgrove.
Emily Gale is a Children’s & YA Specialist at Readings Carlton, and a Children’s & YA writer the rest of the time. Her other title is 'Mum', or more accurately 'Muuuuuuuuum!'