PW #225: Middle Grade Contemporary: RUBY IN THE SKY

Manuscript Status: Finished

Mentor: Laura Shovan and Tricia Clasen
Mentee: Jeanne Zulick Ferruolo
Category/Genre: Contemporary Middle Grade
Word Count: 46,000


Ruby Moon Hayes (12) is as silent and invisible as a new moon in the frozen Vermont sky. She doesn’t want kids at her new school to ask about her past or find out her outspoken mother has been arrested. Ruby’s only friend is the town’s reclusive Bird Lady. There is more to the Bird Lady’s story than people know — as there is to Mom’s and Ruby’s. As Mom’s trial draws near, Ruby must break her silence or risk losing everyone she loves.


People disappear all the time. Sometimes you see their faces on the Internet or plastered across the backs of tractor trailers. Sometimes they stare from posters as you stand in line at Walmart. Sometimes, when they’ve been gone a long time, an artist can draw their face the way they probably look now, so you can recognize them when you see them again.

Sometimes people are there, then poof, like a magic trick, they’re gone.

On that first Saturday after we moved to Fortin, when I watched my mom handcuffed and placed in the back of a police cruiser, that’s what I thought about. People disappearing.

I’d just handed Mom the tape to seal the drafty windows of our latest “forever home” when Bob Van Doodle barked. We peered outside as the cruiser fishtailed up our unplowed driveway. Mom dropped the tape.

“He must be here about my complaint,” she said. “He must have questions. Or paperwork. Remember how Dad hated paperwork?” She pressed her necklace’s moon charm against her lips.

The officer raised his hand to knock, but Mom had already opened the door. A blast of frosted air propelled him inside. The door shut. The window rattled. I hugged myself.

“Dahlia Hayes,” he said.

“Yes?” Mom said.

“Ma’am, you have the right to remain silent.”

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