There’s always something to love about a novel narrated by a ghost. Who else can take us so easily through the walls and doorways separating characters, not to mention into their minds and hearts? Like her Printz Award-winning novel Bone Gap, Laura Ruby’s latest book is set in our world, but with the magic touches that make the experience of reading her work anything but ordinary. The setting is World War II era Chicago, and Frankie and Toni have been deposited in an orphanage by a father who cares more for the wishes of his new wife than the happiness of his daughters. The tale of the narrator, the boy she loved, and the racism they faced in their early 20th century society is woven together with Frankie’s struggle to reach beyond the limited possibilities that her own 1940s society had for young women. The characters are nuanced and full of courage, and even the minor characters could have starred in their own books. Bittersweet in many ways Thirteen Doorways, Wolves Behind Them All, forces readers to reflect on the hardship of women who came before us, and would make a great discussion book for both teen and adult book clubs interested in a fiercely feminist read.— Jenny Chou
National Book Award 2019 Longlist Nominee
From the author of Printz Medal winner Bone Gap comes the unforgettable story of two young women--one living, one dead--dealing with loss, desire, and the fragility of the American dream during WWII.
When Frankie's mother died and her father left her and her siblings at an orphanage in Chicago, it was supposed to be only temporary--just long enough for him to get back on his feet and be able to provide for them once again. That's why Frankie's not prepared for the day that he arrives for his weekend visit with a new woman on his arm and out-of-state train tickets in his pocket.
Now Frankie and her sister, Toni, are abandoned alongside so many other orphans--two young, unwanted women doing everything they can to survive.
And as the embers of the Great Depression are kindled into the fires of World War II, and the shadows of injustice, poverty, and death walk the streets in broad daylight, it will be up to Frankie to find something worth holding on to in the ruins of this shattered America--every minute of every day spent wondering if the life she's able to carve out will be enough.
I will admit I do not know the answer. But I will be watching, waiting to find out.
That's what ghosts do.