Book Review: Rebel Spirits by Lois Ruby

Rebel SpiritsRebel Spirits
Lois Ruby
Point, June 2013
ISBN 978-0-545-42623-7

The first feature to grab me was the tone of Rebel Spirits. It is more than confident, not yet cocky; accepting, unapologetic; charming; and totally void of any defensive vibe. As the story centers around “nearly seventeen” year old Lorelei; this reader was stunned by Ms. Ruby’s ability to, seemingly effortlessly, capture the open desire, the willingness to believe, that most teens still carry inside of them (albeit, some much…much deeper than others). While her steadier, yet clearly open-minded older brother, leans more towards logic and rational explanations; even he has that tiny glimmer of hope….the “why not?” that is sometimes lost in adulthood.

Yes, Lori’s parents truly are startlingly naïve and absent-minded with matters of upmost importance; yet oddly tenacious and relentless on the most trivial of things. The “caretakers” are undoubtedly a bit past odd, edging toward dangerous. The “lawn-boy”…well, okay, he seems like a typical, bleary-eyed, sun-baked kid. Nathaniel Pierce has a starring role, as…..well, Nathaniel is: of course, and why not; a ghost. Not just “a ghost”; but the ghost of a Civil War Soldier, calmly and curiously, standing over Lori’s shoulder, in her tower room, in the creepy, creaky bed-and-breakfast that she can now call home…in Gettysburg.

None of the aforementioned could be construed as spoilers, and that is one of the coolest quirks of Ms. Ruby’s story. At a blush, it would seem that with all of this already in the open, there can’t be room for mystique and intrigue; on the contrary, the plot thickens….and thickens. As quick as Lorelei is to end an annoying conversation; this reader was immersed. Mysteries abound, romance flickers and flutters by, all while Miss Lori boldly plows through, looking for answers and keeping careful watch on the caretakers and some pretty suspicious guests.

Rebel Spirits is historical fiction, but with Ms. Ruby’s characters feeling oh, so human; the history revealed in such a heart-felt fashion, this reader effortlessly let the “fiction” part slip away, to become fully mesmerized in the few, time-critical, fast-paced days Lori & Nathaniel spend together. Ms. Ruby’s enviable skill of combining a story that in turn; elicits chills, danger, even fear and yet references “red-checkered Vans” under an 1860s(ish) hoop skirt is impressive and makes for a fascinating book.


Reviewed by jv poore, June 2014.