This is the time, right before a book comes out (April in Ruby’s Slippers case) that makes me somewhat nervous. Reviews start filtering in. I never know what day I’ll get one. But this one arrived yesterday and made my day. This book was the hardest I’ve ever written, so knowing that it worked well was such a relief.
Ruby’s Slippers by Leanna Ellis is a haunting story of a woman’s quest to know her earthly father and in doing so discovers her Heavenly Father. Dottie Meyers has lived her entire life on the same small Kansas farm where her mother and grandmother were born. Her sister Abigail fled their small town for the bright lights of Hollywood and only returns to the farm when she wants something. So Dottie isn’t completely surprised to find Abby searching through their mother’s things during one of her visits and then leave without a word the following morning. She doesn’t have time to consider the mystery, because a tornado whips through the farm destroying everything and leaving Dottie in a three month long coma. When she wakes up, she sees things in surprisingly bright colors, starts humming songs she can’t remember the names to, and finds a pair of ruby slippers by her bed that were left by her long-lost father. Dottie takes the slippers and goes on a quest to find him and to discover why he abandoned their family over thirty years ago. On the way, she picks up three friends with journeys of their own. Ellis very cleverly plays on the conceit of the title. The slippers are supposedly from The Wizard of Oz, and several themes from the movie are used throughout the book, including Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon. I found myself looking for specific plot elements from the movie and was completely delighted with how Ellis used some of them and twisted others making them all her own. The book never becomes a parody or silly; Ellis handles the similarities carefully to please fans of the movie without annoying anyone who isn’t. While Dottie doesn’t exactly discover there’s no place like home, she learns what the word really means. I loved how Ellis writing reflects whatever Dottie is going through, from the no-nonsense style in Kansas to almost dreamlike when she first wakes up to clarity as Dottie makes personal discoveries. This powerful novel brought a smile to my face.