The Center of Everything

Written by Linda Urban

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Ruby Pepperdine stands in the center of a chalk-drawn circle at the Bunning Day parade and waits to read her winning essay in front of the whole town. Today may be the celebration of the late Captain Bunning (town founder and inventor of the donut hole), but Ruby’s more preoccupied with the hole in her heart. She’s supposed to be the girl everyone can count on, the one who figures things out. But now everything is messed up. Her best friend, Lucy, is mad at her. She has insulted Nero, the inquisitive boy who only wanted to help. And, worst of all, she still grieves for her grandmother, Gigi, and feels guilty because she didn’t listen to her when she had the chance.

Ruby would do anything to travel back in time and fix her mistakes. That’s why she’s pinning her hopes on this essay and the wish she made on her twelfth birthday. Flashbacks explain the events that led up to this moment, and now, as Ruby waits for the parade to reach her, she feels this is her last chance make herself whole again.

This warm, intelligent book offers more reflection than action and is just right for fifth graders who are beginning to make connections between themselves and the world around them. The story’s non-linear plot and alternate points-of-view will strengthen their reading skills. Urban creates realistic characters that middle-grade readers can relate to and nails the small-town feel of (fictional) Bunning, New Hampshire. With themes of friendship, family, destiny, and its circular imagery (from donuts to color wheels and concentric pond ripples), this is a recommended choice for a book club or classroom reading groups. (

  • Center of EverythingTitle: The Center of Everything
  • Author: Linda Urban
  • Publisher: Harcourt Children’s Books / Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
  • Reviewer: Lauren Abbey Greenberg
  • Hardcover: 197 pages
  • ISBN: 978-0-547-76348-4
  • Genre: Contemporary Fiction
  • Lexile Score: 670

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