Welcome to Book Banter! Two of our librarians have read the same YA book and sat down for a discussion on what they thought of it. Did they both like it, love it, or hate it? Would they have changed the ending? Read on for the transcript or watch the video to find out!
SARAH: Hi, everyone! I’m Sarah.
AMY: I’m Amy.
SARAH: And welcome to our Book Banter! So Amy and I have read the same book…that was a little planned. And we decided to have a face-to-face discussion of what we both thought of it. So this time we read 13 Doorways, Wolves Behind Them All by Laura Ruby. It is available as an e-book on Overdrive and an e-audiobook on Hoopla.
AMY: So 13 Doorways, Wolves Behind Them All is a historical fiction with a little bit of a supernatural twist. It tells the story of Frankie, who is placed in an orphanage during World War II. And it deals with her relationships with her family, because she’s not just an orphan. She has been placed in the orphanage by her father, so it deals with her family, making friends. And our narrator has a very interesting past that is also revealed. So we have decided whether or not we liked the book or we didn’t like the book. So, Sarah, are you ready to give your opinion?
SARAH: Yes, I am!
AMY: Okay, so…ready?
SARAH: So, thumbs up or thumbs down. 1…2…3…
TWO THUMBS UP!
AMY: Okay! I was worried for a minute there you weren’t going to like it!
SARAH: I know! I did like the book. I didn’t love it; I liked it. But I’m a hard sell on historical fiction. It’s not my favorite genre. I do read them, but, again, not my favorite. So I’m a hard sell with historical fiction.
AMY: And, see, I love historical fiction! So it was like a win. I was like, “YES! I’m ready to dive into this World War II background.” Yeah.
SARAH: Alright, so…what did you think of the characters?
AMY: I really liked the characters. I though Frankie was an interesting main character, but the fact that it was told through our narrator’s point of view and getting to know more about her…and, you know, that’s where the supernatural kind of element comes into it. I really liked it. I liked the people that Frankie interacted with. There were people I hated, like absolutely detested, and then there were other characters that I was rooting for, you know? I was rooting for relationships and friendships. And, you know, with the backdrop of World War II, you know there’s going to be some carnage and you’re hoping that these people come out okay. So I really liked the characters. What about you, Sarah?
SARAH: I liked most of them, yeah. I’d say Pearl was definitely my favorite.
SARAH: And…I don’t know…there were a few that I could tell that maybe I was supposed to like but I just personally didn’t get attached to them. It was weird reading this because even though she was the main character, Frankie wasn’t necessarily my favorite. There were other smaller characters, side characters, that I actually liked more and wanted more of.
AMY: The cook! I loved the cook.
SARAH: Oh, my gosh! I know! I wanted to know what was going on with the cook! And Marguerite…I wanted to know a whole lot more about Marguerite. I need a book about Marguerite.
AMY: She was pretty great. I liked her, too.
SARAH: Yeah. So…I think we’re good on characters. What else? What about the writing as a whole? What did you think of the writing?
AMY: Well, first, I really liked that Laura Ruby based this off of her husband’s mom, I believe. Yeah, so I really liked that there was this almost biography aspect of it. I mean, I deep dove when I finished this book, and I found obituaries. And how much she really took from, you know, her name was Francis, her life and turned it into Frankie’s story. I mean, I thought it was great and it was interesting and, you know, some questions that I had unanswered were answered through a real-life obituary. So I thought the concept was interesting. Also, there’s an author’s note and it explains how long this book has been worked on, so I thought that was great.
SARAH: It was years, wasn’t it?
AMY: I think it was over a decade that she had kind of formed the idea, so I loved that. I thought the tone was the perfect amount of creepy. Like, I just imagined everything in grayscale!
SARAH: I did, too! Yeah, it was like, even in some of the climactic points it didn’t ever feel rushed.
SARAH: To me, it had this very…I don’t know. Like you said, I just imagined everything in grayscale with maybe that kind of blurred-edges view.
SARAH: Does that make sense?
AMY: Definitely. For sure.
SARAH: It didn’t feel rushed. It definitely had that creepy-but-not-too-creepy vibe.
AMY: Yeah. Definitely. I thought the pacing was great. It never felt rushed but it was never too slow, either. Like, I read this, I think, in 24 hours.
SARAH: Yeah, again, I had to pace myself with it because, like I said, I wasn’t completely in love with it. So I would read a little bit and just be like, “Okay, this is a good time to stop for now.”
AMY: I think it was really interesting because we had mentioned the historical fiction aspect and that there’s a supernatural twist, but there’s also a mystery element to it. So I really think she blended the genres really well. You know, you’re wondering how Pearl’s story…how does that necessarily fit in with Frankie’s story? And, you know, there’s…
SARAH: Why was she so drawn to Frankie?
AMY: Yeah! And are there characters that are overlapping in both stories? I had some pretty crazy theories that didn’t pan out! At all!
SARAH: Same! I absolutely did, too! And I will say I do like a good twist, and I did not see the twist coming.
AMY: There’s a few twists! I agree. There’s a few that I was like, “Whoa! Whoa! Whoa! Wait a minute! I thought I knew what was going on.” And there were moments where I do feel like the wool was pulled over my eyes because I was like, “Wait a minute! I thought we got this bit of information!” And it ended up being…
SARAH: Not correct?
SARAH: Yeah, I know! I will say one of the biggest…I guess twists or shockers for me, and this is by no means a spoiler. This is a spoiler-free conversation! It was that, I think we all know that coming out of the Depression and leading into World War II that orphanages were quite full. But, honestly, I had never thought about the fact that a lot of those kids, their parents would still come visit them because it was just a matter of they couldn’t take care of them.
AMY: And see, I never knew anything about that. My brain was just automatically, “Orphanage—they don’t have any family.” And you’re right. It was shockingly…to me, to know that this happened and, you’re right, during the time period of the Depression and leading up to World War II, people couldn’t take care of their family.
SARAH: Yeah, and how bad…as a mom myself, it was like, how bad can things be that you’re willing to let someone else take care of your children while you’re trying to get back on your feet. So, you know, that kind of hit home for me a little bit. It was just not something I had really thought about, I guess, or done research into from Depression to World War II era.
AMY: No. I think that’s kind of forgotten a lot in fiction. I mean, we do get stories about wars, you know. I love Victorian times, or…there are certain books that I feel like follow certain time periods, but I feel like something like the Great Depression isn’t expanded too much on. And while it’s not taking place during that we see the effects of that, which I feel like we don’t see a lot. And this is also a World War II book that takes place in Chicago! I mean, we’re not in the War. We’re seeing the effects of the War on the American people at that time.
SARAH: So, I think we both give this a positive review. Yours is a little more glowing than mine!
AMY: I liked it! Any book that makes me do research; I feel like…is good.
SARAH: Yeah, like I said, the further away I get from this book the more favorable opinion I’m going to have of it. Sometimes I feel that way about a book. But, yeah, it’s been a few days since I finished it, and I’m already feeling better about it than when I finished it. So, thanks for joining us for Book Banter today! Again, we read 13 Doorways, Wolves Behind Them All by Laura Ruby. It is available as an e-book on Overdrive and as an e-audiobook on Hoopla. We will see you next time!