SIXTEEN YEAR OLD CARMEN CASTILLO WONDERS WHAT IT WOULD BE LIKE TO HAVE A PAIR OF RUBY SLIPPERS.
“There’s no place like home…”
“There’s no place like home…”
“There’s no place like home.”
But then reality sets in and Carmen concludes that ruby slippers are mere fiction. Constant prayers that her parents will patch things up remain unanswered… and her hurtful word becomes too much for her to bear. Trapped by resentment and anger, Carmen lashes out the only way she knows how and soon finds herself at a crossroads. Will Carmen find the path to ultimate peace and contentment that her heart longs for? Or will her troubled soul remain forever embittered?
I really enjoyed reading The Wishing Pearl by Nicole O’Dell, the first book in the Diamond Estates series. (You can read my review here: The Wishing Pearl Review) So, I was very excited when offered the chance to review the second book, The Embittered Ruby.
From the first page, the reader is thrown into Carmen Castillo’s life. Reeling from her parent’s divorce and her sudden move from an upscale New York home to a crime ridden New Jersey neighborhood, Carmen is positive that life can’t get any worse. Until some of the more dangerous characters at school start paying attention to her. Add to that the trials of a long distance relationship with her boyfriend Nate, and Carmen is ready to get out of there. Whatever the cost.
First off, let me say that Nicole O’Dell is quite the writer. She blends such natural internal monologue with the action that you feel as if you’re really in Carmen’s head, seeing and thinking and experiencing everything she does.
I found this book a little harder to read than the Wishing Pearl for two reasons.
One, it was more depressing. The book deals with difficult issues like teen pregnancy, drugs, suicide, etc. Carmen makes some bad choices. Really bad. And she has to suffer the negative consequences of those choices. And, as it so often is in real life, her decisions negatively impacted those around her as well. Without giving too much away, I can say that the book doesn’t have a fairy tale “everyone lives happily ever after” ending. But that’s ok. That’s real life.
Two, the main character was less likable. I found that I didn’t care for Carmen as much as I had cared for Olivia. Probably because her behavior through most of the book is anything but endearing.
That said, I really enjoyed reading The Embittered Ruby. Even though Carmen often acted like a self-centered brat, Nicole kept me wanting her to change, wanting everything to work out for her. The Embittered Ruby also offers valuable lessons and insights about how we are often judgmental and prejudiced without even realizing it, and portrays the negative effect such an attitude can have both on ourselves and on others.
Overall, The Embittered Ruby is a great second book in The Diamond Estates Series. Just because of some of the subject matter (although it’s always handled tactfully), I would recommended The Embittered Ruby for ages 14+.
Buy a copy of The Embittered Ruby on Amazon!
Note: I received a free copy of this book from the publisher for the purpose of writing an honest review. The thoughts and opinions expressed above are entirely my own!