Laura Ruby shines unique light on American history

Laura Ruby’s “Thirteen Doorways, Wolves Behind Them All” showcases a different, darker side of American history than most know of. The story is narrated by Pearl, the ghost of a girl who died of the Spanish flu in 1918 and is now completely fixated on the world of the living. Pearl is especially fascinated by the life of a young girl named Frankie growing up in a strict German Catholic orphanage throughout the end of the Great Depression and the duration of World War II. Frankie, along with her younger sister Toni and older brother Vito, has lived in the orphanage since her mother died and her father dropped them off there. It was supposed to be temporary, just long enough for him to get back on his feet. But one day he comes to visit with out-of-state train tickets in his pocket and a new woman on his arm, announcing that he is leaving and will not be taking Frankie and Toni with him. 

The book, which was inspired by the childhood of Ruby’s late mother-in-law, certainly takes some liberties when it comes to supernatural beings. Though some might be deterred by the ghostly characters, which may seem out of place at first glance in a historical fiction novel, their presence added another layer of depth to the story and made it even more interesting than it already was. Instead of being limited to one focal character, Ruby took it upon herself to have a separate narrator with a story and conflict of her own. That’s something not seen often in books, and it was a decision that led to a captivating and unique storyline that kept me guessing from the very first page. I was never quite sure what would happen next, which led to a perfectly suspenseful reading experience.

Overall, I think this book was an eye-opening piece of literature that showed me a completely different side of history. I could visualize each part of the story as it happened, like a movie playing in my head. If you like historical fiction, you’ll probably enjoy this book. If you’re also partial to stories with supernatural elements, you will almost definitely find this book to be a worthy addition to your reading list.