A good novel tells us a story. In All That’s Missing, Arlo decides to run away to find the grandmother he’s never known after his grandfather is hospitalized due to a stroke. This 358-page novel has lots of action to keep the story interesting. We want to know what is going to happen.
Sullivan, Sarah. All That’s Missing. Somerville, Mass.: Candlewick Press, 2013.
“Secretly providing for himself and a beloved grandfather who is succumbing to dementia, young Arlo is placed in the care of a social worker and runs away to find and connect with his only other family member.” – CIP. [Dementia; Family problems; Grandparents; Runaways]
But a better novel tells us about life. In Way Down Deep, a police officer arrives to take twelve-year-old Ruby back to a grandmother she doesn’t remember. This 197-page novel not only has lots of action and humour, it also contains little passages to take away once the story is over:
“‘Miss Arbutus says that sleep is more important for the soul than for the body. She says when a person sleeps a lot like Mr. Crawford does, they are trying to work out their problems.’
“‘And how does sleeping help?’
“‘Because, according to Miss Arbutus,’ Ruby said, ‘God is in that place where sleep takes us. Way down deep inside, where all the answers lie'” (72).
“‘Who’s the doctor here anyway?’ Mr. Doctor said sternly. ‘I know cussitis when I see it. It is caused by two very dangerous germs – pain and anger. And these germs attack the vocabulary so that the afflicted person is not able to express his true feelings'” (90).
White, Ruth. Way Down Deep. New York: Farrar Straus Giroux, 2007.
“In the West Virginia town of Way Down Deep in the 1950s, a foundling called Ruby June is happily living with Miss Arbutus at the local boarding house when suddenly, after the arrival of a family of outsiders, the mystery of Ruby’s past begins to unravel.” – CIP. [Community life; Foundlings; Historical fiction; Identity; Orphans; West Virginia]
All That’s Missing is an entertaining story. Way Down Deep is an entertaining and sophisticated story, carefully crafted by an accomplished author.