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Thirteen Doorways, Wolves Behind Them All

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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 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.


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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 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.

30 review for Thirteen Doorways, Wolves Behind Them All

  1. 4 out of 5

    Tatiana

    The more I read this novel, the more I grew disenchanted by it. It’s the kind of book that tries to tackle many things, but ends up failing at giving justice to all of them. It opened with a ghost narrating a story of Frankie, a girl abandoned by her father in pre-WWII Chicago orphanage. Life there was rough, nuns were cruel, etc. This part I really liked and if the book stayed with Frankie, I would have liked the story much more. But Frankie’s story got diluted by the ghost drama, detours into The more I read this novel, the more I grew disenchanted by it. It’s the kind of book that tries to tackle many things, but ends up failing at giving justice to all of them. It opened with a ghost narrating a story of Frankie, a girl abandoned by her father in pre-WWII Chicago orphanage. Life there was rough, nuns were cruel, etc. This part I really liked and if the book stayed with Frankie, I would have liked the story much more. But Frankie’s story got diluted by the ghost drama, detours into romance and war narratives, evil stepmothers, some kind of nonsensical fairy tales, racism and feminism, and sins and deranged nuns, madness and illicit affairs, passing, on and on. I never could figure out what the whole thing was about. Until the last 10%, where the narrative finally sharpened its focus and sped up to deliver its thesis, which, you guessed it, was “men are garbage, girls are victims.” I don’t mind this message in principle, but this was a very convoluted and unsatisfying way of getting to this point. National Book Award judges clearly disagree with my take. I am confident they are totally wrong.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Kelly

    I haven't been blown away by a lot of YA this year -- it's been fine, but not spectacular. This was, however, spectacular. Smart and savvy and clever and creative and powerful. A ghost story wrapped in a story of an orphan during World War II Chicago, this is a story about all of the doors hiding wolves girls have to face in the world. The wolves are all different, but all the same. It's also a story of love, of passion, of human connection. Beautifully written and lush and evocative. More soon.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Erin Kelly

    Let’s talk about how good this book is. The writing is gorgeous, the story compelling. Our narrator is a GHOST telling the story of an orphan—but also revealing her own tragic story in the process. But the book is about more than that. It’s about what it means to be a woman, then and now. It’s about the secrets we are forced to keep and the ones we impose on ourselves. It’s about forgiveness and justice. It’s about survival and loneliness. Beautifully written and wonderfully told. XO

  4. 4 out of 5

    Jerrie (redwritinghood)

    I finished this yesterday and have been wavering on how I want to rate it. It was a good look at the treatment of young women and girls in turn of the century America as well as the racism at that time. I’m not sure I understood the point of the ghost narrator other than to further emphasize the struggles women faced during this time period. Those two parallel story lines were more distracting for me, however, and I would have preferred a story that focused on one or the other.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Andria

    The story of two girls: one living, one dead, separated by class and time but both struggling with what it means to be a woman in this world and what it means to be human and alive. Both are punished for their sexuality and suffer violence at the hands of those who should have kept them safe, but both have rebellious streaks and push back against the forces that limit their power. It's the story of unwanted girls mistreated girls abandoned girls who refuse to accept their fate and who know in The story of two girls: one living, one dead, separated by class and time but both struggling with what it means to be a woman in this world and what it means to be human and alive. Both are punished for their sexuality and suffer violence at the hands of those who should have kept them safe, but both have rebellious streaks and push back against the forces that limit their power. It's the story of unwanted girls mistreated girls abandoned girls who refuse to accept their fate and who know in their hearts that folktales legends and stories always tell the truth. Laura Ruby has built a totally believable ghost world where spirits filled with loss and longing replay their final moments, obsess over their deaths, fixate on the living, and pass easily through walls. And she has done so with the smart and lyrical prose you should expect from her by now. I lucked into an ARC of this, read it immediately, read it again underlining favorite passages, then went online to pre-order a copy in advance of its October pub date. What more can I say? Read this book when it comes out, if not sooner. (If you're local I'll loan you my ARC if you don't mind all the underlined passages)

  6. 4 out of 5

    Lindsay

    Frankie, her sister Toni and her brother Vito are all living in a Chicago orphanage run by nuns in the last years of the Great Depression and through WWII. We follow Frankie's story as she grows up and out of the orphanage and as she's observed by the ghost of a girl who died from the Spanish Flu in 1918. The hardship that Frankie has to endure, first with the nuns, and then with America on a war footing, not to mention a father who's neglectful at best and abusive at worst, makes for a Frankie, her sister Toni and her brother Vito are all living in a Chicago orphanage run by nuns in the last years of the Great Depression and through WWII. We follow Frankie's story as she grows up and out of the orphanage and as she's observed by the ghost of a girl who died from the Spanish Flu in 1918. The hardship that Frankie has to endure, first with the nuns, and then with America on a war footing, not to mention a father who's neglectful at best and abusive at worst, makes for a compelling story of survival. And that harsh realism is brilliantly underlined by our very unreliable ghost narrator who seems to grow in strength at the same time that Frankie grows into her own. It's a powerful book that (barely) fictionalizes a real world person whose struggles deserve to be known. The only thing that leaves it less than a five star book is inherent in its premise. Because it's based on a real world person, the events of her life, like in the real world, don't really tell anything like a coherent plot (plot is for the ghost parts). Instead, we get to see Frankie endure and grow against a seemingly endless stream of random (and often tragic) events. Still, it's clever and odd, and a wonderful mix of biography and fantasy. Well worth a read.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Lata

    Frequently heartbreaking, this excellent story by Laura Ruby left me both wrecked and hopeful. I loved this story of Frankie. She, older brother Vito and younger sister Toni are left by their father in an orphanage upon the scandalous death of their mother. There, though it was not a particularly loving environment, Frankie, Vito and Toni had their friends and routines. Then their father takes Vito out of the orphanage with him after remarrying, leaving Frankie and Toni behind. There's also a Frequently heartbreaking, this excellent story by Laura Ruby left me both wrecked and hopeful. I loved this story of Frankie. She, older brother Vito and younger sister Toni are left by their father in an orphanage upon the scandalous death of their mother. There, though it was not a particularly loving environment, Frankie, Vito and Toni had their friends and routines. Then their father takes Vito out of the orphanage with him after remarrying, leaving Frankie and Toni behind. There's also a ghost, who's been watching Frankie for years at the orphanage, and has her own issues that keep her brooding and wandering the city. Laura Ruby impressed me with her story Bone Gap; I loved her prose, and incisive, brilliant way with emotions and relationships. I was a little worried going into this book that I would not like this book as much as I had Bone Gap. No worries. The ghost's story and Frankie's tale are rife with betrayals and masterfully interwoven. Both young women have different truths they need to find out about themselves and their families, and Ruby handles the sentiments skilfully. This book was brilliant, poignant, and beautifully written. I loved this book.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Skip

    I've liked the other books Laura Ruby has written (Bone Gap, York series), but this one not so much. This is a coming of age story about an adolescent girl growing up in an orphanage in Chicago during World War II. Frankie, her brother and sister are abandoned by their father after the death of her mother, as he marries another woman with her own family. There is an interwoven ghost story, some themes of adolescent love, war, abuse by the nuns, and discrimination against women. Basically, too I've liked the other books Laura Ruby has written (Bone Gap, York series), but this one not so much. This is a coming of age story about an adolescent girl growing up in an orphanage in Chicago during World War II. Frankie, her brother and sister are abandoned by their father after the death of her mother, as he marries another woman with her own family. There is an interwoven ghost story, some themes of adolescent love, war, abuse by the nuns, and discrimination against women. Basically, too many themes and too many ideas, which ultimately did not work for me.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Shannon (It Starts At Midnight)

    You can find the full review and all the fancy and/or randomness that accompanies it at It Starts at Midnight Thirteen Doorwaysis such a genuinelygorgeousbook, I hardly know where to begin. Look, it's gut-wrenching, let's get that out of the way. I mean, it's orphans during WWII, you're probably not expecting sunshine and roses, right? The thing is, as hard as it is at times to read, there is a really inspirational aspect to it as well. It left me hopeful, that maybe humanity isn't doomed. Our You can find the full review and all the fancy and/or randomness that accompanies it at It Starts at Midnight Thirteen Doorways is such a genuinely gorgeous book, I hardly know where to begin. Look, it's gut-wrenching, let's get that out of the way. I mean, it's orphans during WWII, you're probably not expecting sunshine and roses, right? The thing is, as hard as it is at times to read, there is a really inspirational aspect to it as well. It left me hopeful, that maybe humanity isn't doomed. Our mistakes are plenty, but there's still good, there's something worth fighting for. The characters are incredibly well developed, I rooted for them from the start. And not just because of their circumstances, but because I genuinely cared about them as characters. The story is told mainly through Frankie, one of the young women at the orphanage, and well, a ghost named Pearl. I have mixed feelings about paranormal, so I am extra happy to report that the author handled this magnificently. I absolutely was as invested in Pearl's story and observations, as she had such a special and unique insight into both Frankie and the world around them. And the stories were compelling, of course. Frankie is trying to keep her sister and herself safe in the middle of incredibly tumultuous times. There is a war raging around them, and they fear especially for all male family and friends, as they see young men in their own orphanage being drafted (and volunteering) for the war. I cannot comprehend the terror, frankly. Between worrying about your daily existence, and a looming global battle, Frankie had unfathomable courage. The range of emotions that this book made me feel was epic. I laughed, I cried, I was angry, happy, inspired. I haven't read anything with such impact in quite some time. Bottom Line: This is one of the rare books I would recommend to quite literally everyone I know. It's such a heartfelt, touching novel with current-era takeaways that should definitely not be missed.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Anna Bright

    this one’s a finalist for the National Book Award, and for good reason. Frankie’s father leaves her and her sister, Toni, at an orphanage to be sure they’ll be cared for. but then he shows up one day, and he’s married, and he’s leaving town—without them. Frankie and Toni are alone in the world with their friends and the ghosts that watch over one. this one gave me chills all over my entire body. I highly recommend.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Samm | Sassenach the Book Wizard

    I don't know if it's my tastes or the content being published more now but I've been reading SO many books in the past year involving religious institutions that are actually pretty analytical of them. Some more than others but still a pretty interesting shift. The switching of POVs between our alive character and our dead character didn't totally work for me all the time. They were going through a lot of similar things but I didn't find their voices to be all that different from each other. At I don't know if it's my tastes or the content being published more now but I've been reading SO many books in the past year involving religious institutions that are actually pretty analytical of them. Some more than others but still a pretty interesting shift. The switching of POVs between our alive character and our dead character didn't totally work for me all the time. They were going through a lot of similar things but I didn't find their voices to be all that different from each other. At times I forgot which of them I was reading for a few lines. I had to pause and reread. The strongest take away for me was the role of women of the time. Frankie was by far the most interesting and likable character in the book. Then there's Toni, the nuns, Frankie's step mother, her own mother and then our less than alive friend. They all represented pretty much all of the options women had: mental hospital, find a husband and keep em for survival, be boy crazy, shunned and disowned for being out of social norms. It's pretty depressing but interesting really. Frankie & Toni's dad was a particularly manipulative piece of garbage but he did seem to fit the time and social norms sadly. The ending was abrupt and a bit chaotic but it honestly strengthened the book for me. Frankie and Toni's ending being clean and organized wouldn't have fit this whole book. I liked that there was that final show down between them and everyone else.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Jessica Woodbury

    This book is beautiful and sad, full of surrealism and yet fully grounded in real life. I will often say things like, "I don't need any more WWII historical fiction," but books like this remind me that I just need books that take their period seriously, that open it up to you and make it feel absolutely real. I enjoyed BONE GAP but I liked THIRTEEN DOORWAYS even more. The ghost-as-narrator device still isn't used all that often, which I think is for the best. If you're going to use it you need to This book is beautiful and sad, full of surrealism and yet fully grounded in real life. I will often say things like, "I don't need any more WWII historical fiction," but books like this remind me that I just need books that take their period seriously, that open it up to you and make it feel absolutely real. I enjoyed BONE GAP but I liked THIRTEEN DOORWAYS even more. The ghost-as-narrator device still isn't used all that often, which I think is for the best. If you're going to use it you need to have a good reason and you need to do something interesting with it. Here Ruby does exactly that. Even though the ghost spends most of her time watching our protagonist, Frankie, the device works well then and I always enjoyed when the ghost's own story came into the picture. Adult readers who avoid YA shouldn't avoid a book like this. Ruby's prose is deft and lovely, even though the book is about teenagers it brims with emotion.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Rachel

    When I wasn’t reading this, I was thinking about it, it’s that good. I love a good historical fiction (which this was!), but when you throw ghosts into it I’m SOLD. 10/10 WOULD RECOMMEND! I cared about every character — I was angry, sad, elated for them. I cried and laughed and grinned, and at times was thoroughly creeped out (which I love!). Frankie is such a beautifully nuanced character, and I loved her wittiness and humor. I wanted to shake Toni at times, and I cannot tell you how deeply I When I wasn’t reading this, I was thinking about it, it’s that good. I love a good historical fiction (which this was!), but when you throw ghosts into it I’m SOLD. 10/10 WOULD RECOMMEND! I cared about every character — I was angry, sad, elated for them. I cried and laughed and grinned, and at times was thoroughly creeped out (which I love!). Frankie is such a beautifully nuanced character, and I loved her wittiness and humor. I wanted to shake Toni at times, and I cannot tell you how deeply I felt for them, and Pearl, and Marguerite, and Loretta, and all the women who had to overcome so much during this period in time. The writing really captured all the feelings my Granny talked about when she mentioned the war and the Depression. Desperation, grief, anger but also hope and love. Laura Ruby is a fantastic storyteller and man, I loved the writing so much. A super solid 5/5 stars for me

  14. 5 out of 5

    Madison

    Even if you didn't like Bone Gap, I am absolutely begging you to give Thirteen Doorways a try. Granted, I loved Bone Gap, but I recognize the magical-realism-lite vibe isn't for everyone. This book is similarly dreamy and beautiful, but it's grounded in real stories and histories. Every character is vibrant and full, and while I'm not normally a huge fan of YA historical fiction, particularly WWII, the perspective is fresh and unique. I absolutely adored this. It's gorgeously written and full of Even if you didn't like Bone Gap, I am absolutely begging you to give Thirteen Doorways a try. Granted, I loved Bone Gap, but I recognize the magical-realism-lite vibe isn't for everyone. This book is similarly dreamy and beautiful, but it's grounded in real stories and histories. Every character is vibrant and full, and while I'm not normally a huge fan of YA historical fiction, particularly WWII, the perspective is fresh and unique. I absolutely adored this. It's gorgeously written and full of gut-punching descriptions and revelations. Also, can we talk about that TITLE? Holy wow.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Samm | Sassenach the Book Wizard

    Excuse me?! First of all, how dare you? Second...give it to me now

  16. 5 out of 5

    Mary

    4.5 stars I love Laura Ruby's writing. In 13 doorways she transports readers back in time and builds a layered story filled with mystery, lies, and hungry characters. It is a ghost's story. Even though Pearl died in 1918, she is still present in 1940s Chicago as a ghost. One of her main "haunts" is a German Catholic orphanage where Frankie and her siblings have been left by their father during the depression. Through Pearl we learn about Frankie, about her family and her hopes, which in turn 4.5 stars I love Laura Ruby's writing. In 13 doorways she transports readers back in time and builds a layered story filled with mystery, lies, and hungry characters. It is a ghost's story. Even though Pearl died in 1918, she is still present in 1940s Chicago as a ghost. One of her main "haunts" is a German Catholic orphanage where Frankie and her siblings have been left by their father during the depression. Through Pearl we learn about Frankie, about her family and her hopes, which in turn reveals more about Pearl's own life and death. Ruby explores different types of hunger - hunger for justice, for experience, for love and connection, and, yes, also literally, hunger for food, while building engaging characters. Its mysteries are quiet, dealing more with relationships and family. Its ghosts are not scary but touching, searching for meaning. Poignant and sad, Ruby highlights harsh truths for women, immigrants, and minorities. I did not know where this story would lead but was happy to go along for the ride.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Sasha

    I finished this minutes ago and I need to write down how it made me feel. At first I held this book and tried to sleep but I couldn't, so here I am. This book is ferociously beautiful, a supernova explosion of the most gorgeous, compelling, fierce writing - ever, in my memory of reading. It's a well-written work that hadn't particularly shaken me until the last 50 or so pages, but holy hell (apt). It's the most gratifying and emboldening ending. I just love it. I have no words.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Katherine

    This is a story about young women who dare to hope in the face of life's smothering difficulties. This is a story about injustice, betrayal, pain, and loss, but this is also a story about friendship, love, laughter, and loyalty. Most of all, this is a story about persevering even while knowing it would be easier to simply give up.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Sacha

    DNF at pg 98. This concept is so interesting, and Frankie is a fun character, but I could NOT get into this...and I really tried. I recognize I’m in the minority and do plan to try again at another time, but I had a hard time getting invested in the characters and outcomes...

  20. 5 out of 5

    Cody Roecker

    Unforgettable.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Sara

    I had to think hard about whether to tag this YA, because it didn't feel particularly YA-y to me, so I didn't. One reason for that is that it felt to me that it had a very slow start, with my interest only starting to pick up around page 100, more than 1/4 in the book. For the first 100 pages, there was plenty of atmosphere, and things happened, and things were recalled, but neither of the two main characters seemed to have much of a goal. The teen ghost narrator seemed to just kind of float I had to think hard about whether to tag this YA, because it didn't feel particularly YA-y to me, so I didn't. One reason for that is that it felt to me that it had a very slow start, with my interest only starting to pick up around page 100, more than 1/4 in the book. For the first 100 pages, there was plenty of atmosphere, and things happened, and things were recalled, but neither of the two main characters seemed to have much of a goal. The teen ghost narrator seemed to just kind of float around aimlessly and the teen girl the ghost seemed most interested in, Frankie, just seemed to have a hard time at the orphanage. It wasn't until after page 100 where the characters started to have motivations. Even after that, I can't say this book grabbed me. I liked the themes, and liked the mood, I liked a lot of the writing, I liked the feeling of really being in Chicago during WWII, but I'm guessing this story will soon slip away from me, like a ghost.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Bang Bang Books

    4.25 I loved Bone Gap so I was very excited to read Ruby's next YA novel. I was expecting something a bit deeper in meaning and thought so that's why it's a 4.25 and not higher. Issues I Had With the Book * I Wasn't Expecting That-I wasn't expecting a coming of age story. I don't like this genre because I tend to be bored. By the time I figured it out, I was 75% in. Because Bone Gap was so weird, I kept waiting for this book to be weird and to suddenly reveal something amazing but no, it was just a 4.25 I loved Bone Gap so I was very excited to read Ruby's next YA novel. I was expecting something a bit deeper in meaning and thought so that's why it's a 4.25 and not higher. Issues I Had With the Book * I Wasn't Expecting That-I wasn't expecting a coming of age story. I don't like this genre because I tend to be bored. By the time I figured it out, I was 75% in. Because Bone Gap was so weird, I kept waiting for this book to be weird and to suddenly reveal something amazing but no, it was just a feminist coming of age story. And there's nothing wrong with that, I just was expecting something else and that's my fault not the books. Although I just said it's my fault and not the book's, I was still didn't get an emotional reaction or inspiration so the rating remains. What I Did Like: * All The Characters- I can honestly say that I liked everyone and that rarely happens with an ensemble this large. Everyone brought something different to the story. I especially liked the contrast between Frankie and Toni. Toni exemplified a girl who liked boys and was confident in her body and didn't care what society deemed to be a lady. And although Frankie constantly berated her for it, it was Toni who helped her grow. * I Enjoy a Metaphorical Story-This book is riddled with metaphors including the title. Ruby did a great job weaving them through her novel and trusting the reader to interpret. Ruby literally doesn't explain anything; it's up to you to interpret what she's saying. * It Doesn't Shove its Feminism in Your Face-It's quite subtle and because I didn't do much research on this before I read it, I didn't know it was feminist until about 75% in which is great because it was never shoved down my throat. Overall This is a VERY critical book so if you are looking for something with a quick plot and lots of stuff happening, this ain't it. If you are looking for a good historical feminist novel that you can select for book club, go for it!

  23. 5 out of 5

    Carina Olsen

    Reading this book was painful. Every part of it made my heart ache. But oh my god how badly I loved it. This entire book was perfection. It ruined me. And my heart is still racing after having finished reading it. It was simply every kind of good. Horrible but so amazing. I am giving five stars to this beyond incredible book. Because there is so much I have to share about this story. The writing was all kinds of perfect. I loved being able to connect to the story and this world. And gosh, the Reading this book was painful. Every part of it made my heart ache. But oh my god how badly I loved it. This entire book was perfection. It ruined me. And my heart is still racing after having finished reading it. It was simply every kind of good. Horrible but so amazing. I am giving five stars to this beyond incredible book. Because there is so much I have to share about this story. The writing was all kinds of perfect. I loved being able to connect to the story and this world. And gosh, the setting. I just cannot. So good. It takes place in Chicago during WW2, from 1941 to 1946. Reading about this was so very painful. It was all written so well. I must say that contemporary books are not really my thing, but I have to try a few at times. And I already adored Laura. I'm so so glad I gave this book a try. Because I loved every moment of it. It is contemporary but also historical and also full of ghosts. Which I loved too. There was not a single part of this book that I found boring. Not a single part I hated reading about. I mean, my heart was breaking most of the time, but I loved it even so. There was one death I wish had not been true. As it ruined me the most. Yet it was done so well too, and so I cannot complain too much. Sigh. I simply loved this book to pieces. All the different characters were so good to read about. Gosh. I loved all of them so much. Okay, I fully hated one of the nuns, but she so deserved it. This book tells the story about Frankie. And is told through the eyes of a ghost named Pearl. Which was all kinds of different and exciting. Even though we do not read the book fully through the point of view of Frankie we still get every part of her thoughts on most things. Because of how the ghost is watching her, reading her thoughts and feelings. The book begins when Frankie is fourteen years old. It slowly goes on until she is nineteen. Which I liked a bunch, as we learn so much about her, and nothing felt rushed at all. But where do I begin to describe Frankie? Hmm. She was the most adorable girl. I loved her to pieces. She has lived at an orphanage for years now with her younger sister and her older brother, though she almost never sees him. Because of the girls and boys being kept apart, since this orphanage is run by nuns. Which I would never have been able to survive. Gosh. The whole religion thing is not for me, but I did not mind reading about it at all. Everything was interesting and exciting and so I loved this orphanage. We learn so much about Frankie in this book. Her mom died years before and her father left his children at this orphanage. He visits once every two weeks, always bringing food and gifts. But it is not the same as living with him. Then he marries someone else. And comes to visit with her, letting his girls know that they are moving away. And only taking their older brother with them. And all five children of his new wife, leaving behind Frankie and her sister. And gosh. This ruined my heart. It was fully cruel and evil. Hmph. At first I had so much trouble with Toni, Frankie's sister. They argued so often. But near the end she did something else. And I started loving this girl something fierce. Which I'm so thrilled about. But ha. Their father. I never grew to care for him. I only began hating him more and more. Oops. The older brother was sweet, though, but almost never there. Frankie and Toni spend so many years at the orphanage. It could be horrible there, with the nuns being so strict, and the food being very terrible. But still. They were safe. Safe from the war and safe from their father's evil new wife. Reading about life at the orphanage was all kinds of fun, to be honest. Frankie had some really sweet friends and I adored those girls beyond words. They were amazing. And she had a boy too. And it was beyond sweet reading about her first love. It hurt. But it was so good. Sam was the best. Some of the nuns were kind. But one of them was not. And I hated her with such passion. A punishment she made near the end of the book made me cry. It hurt soso badly. This book was a little about the war too. Which was also heartbreaking to read about. It was also about how women were punished and treated. That hurt to read about too. But was so important as well. And everything was written so good. Sigh. But this story was also a ghost story. Being told from the point of view of Pearl. It is the story of Frankie, which was so good and heartbreaking, but it was also the story of Pearl. And oh my gosh how badly I loved Pearl. Getting to know this dead girl ruined me the very most. So much of her life was a secret. So many things we did not learn until closer to the end of the book. And everything new learned ruined my heart even more. My gosh. This girl went through a lot. And it hurt so badly to read about. But so good. Yes. So good. This ghost do a lot of things as well. She visits a bunch of places, which I loved. She meets a ghost friend, whom I adored too. Getting to slowly learn her whole story, why she was dead, how she had lived, was beyond incredible. I very much loved reading about her. I have already written so much about this book. Yet not nearly enough. Most of the story takes place at the orphanage. And not one single part of this story was boring. Frankie was a girl who followed the rules. Sometimes, haha. I adored her to pieces. Pearl was amazing too. Everything about this book made my heart race. In fear, in pain, in hope. The ending was a little bittersweet, but mostly sweet. This book was also filled with history. And most of the book was real too. And I loved all of that so much. Sigh. So good. There are so many parts of this book I want to write about. I think I have gotten most of it down. Okay, I'm far from having written down all my thoughts about everything, but gosh. I have to stop sometime, haha. This book was just so good. And I cannot stop writing about it. Sigh. You all need this book in your life. I'm so glad that I decided to read it. It hurt me. So very much. Not always a good hurt. Yet I adored every part of it. Which is the very best feeling, to be honest. This book was fully rude. But fully perfect. I loved it tons. Thirteen Doorways, Wolves Behind Them All was everything I wanted it to be and so so much more. It ruined every part of my heart. And I loved it even more because of it. This is a book I know I would read again. It is a book I know I will think about for a long time. It is a book I will not forget. Everything about it was perfect. Heartbreaking, but so good. And beyond important. I need you all to read this book too. You will not regret it. Huge thank you to a special friend for trading me the ARC. I must get the hardcover too. --- This review was first posted on my blog, Carina's Books, here: https://carinabooks.blogspot.com/2019...

  24. 5 out of 5

    Blodeuedd Finland

    I read this blurb (not this one), and expected something entirely else. More horror in the orphanage, so ok, it was not a walk on roses, but I thought it would be worse. Now there were even good times. Frankie and Toni is left at an orphanage by their father. He has a new wife (asshat!), and no place in his home for them. They grow up there and he visits twice a month, until he does not. His new wife was a piece of work. Frankie is the sensible one that tries to be good. Toni is the one that likes I read this blurb (not this one), and expected something entirely else. More horror in the orphanage, so ok, it was not a walk on roses, but I thought it would be worse. Now there were even good times. Frankie and Toni is left at an orphanage by their father. He has a new wife (asshat!), and no place in his home for them. They grow up there and he visits twice a month, until he does not. His new wife was a piece of work. Frankie is the sensible one that tries to be good. Toni is the one that likes to flirt with the boys, even though they are not allowed too. The nuns are strict, WWII starts. Family drama. And then there was the ghost, ok so this was really weird. At first I was more interested in Frankie's story, but then there ghost took more and more space and I liked her more. A young woman hanging around, wondering why, whispering to orphans and slowly we learn her story. And it is a sad one. So yes, I did feel that the story would have worked great without the ghost. And I also feel like the story would have worked great with just the ghost, as it is now we have both, and sure that works too. Narration I liked her ghost voice for Pearl, it fitted great. The ghost part had this other feel to them and that did work great for the story. It felt more ghostly.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Megan

    I won an ARC of this book in a Goodreads giveaway. Historical fiction isn't a genre I gravitate toward, but something about this story had me interested enough to enter to win a copy. It was fantastic. This is a story about girls, about loss, about love, about trauma, and about life. The balance between the two protagonists, whose stories are carefully interwoven and mirror each other in a lot of ways, is exceptional. The relationships feel real and complicated without being lost in the message I won an ARC of this book in a Goodreads giveaway. Historical fiction isn't a genre I gravitate toward, but something about this story had me interested enough to enter to win a copy. It was fantastic. This is a story about girls, about loss, about love, about trauma, and about life. The balance between the two protagonists, whose stories are carefully interwoven and mirror each other in a lot of ways, is exceptional. The relationships feel real and complicated without being lost in the message Laura Ruby is trying to convey. She shows so many kinds of relationships and emotions. I find that authors often attempt to showcase one kind of relationship, such as terrible parents or wonderful parents, siblings who are best friends or siblings who hate each other, etc. But the relationships in this book hit all those notes, with some evolving throughout the story and others staying consistent. It feels very genuine and true to life, at least from my experiences. Laura Ruby is a refreshingly subtle writer. That's not to say the issues the characters face are subtle (or even the "villains"), but the stance Ruby takes is clear without smacking the reader over the head with it. There's an obvious right and wrong, with clearly heinous acts and awful people, but we experience those through the emotions of the characters. She makes her characters very human, and they struggle in a realistic way. Their struggle is what the audience is supposed to learn from instead of Ruby spoonfeeding us what to think. I think Ruby's subtlety as a writer is also demonstrated by her portrayal of female roles. Women could/were expected to fill a variety of fairly rigid societal, professional, and familial roles during the 1940s. It's easy to overlook how thoroughly these roles are represented, explored, and often challenged in this book, and that's because Ruby doesn't wave a flag and call attention to every detail she includes. She doesn't straight up say, "Look at how this person faced this consequence, isn't it awful?!" Instead, she shows the experiences of the characters and lets the audience draw conclusions from them. I very much appreciate that because it feels like she trusts the reader to recognize these things on their own. I can't recommend this book enough and really hope to see more people pick it up. I'm definitely going to grab a finished copy for myself.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Amy

    Many thanks to EdelweissPlus and the publisher for providing me with a DRC of this title to review. All opinions are my own. If you had asked me at about 10% into this book if I was going to keep going, or even what I thought of it in general, I would have told you it was DANGEROUSLY close to being in my small DNF pile. The only thing that kept me going were: a. the author (I LOVED Bone Gap ), b. other reviews who mentioned a similar struggle getting going, and c. the buzz surrounding this book Many thanks to EdelweissPlus and the publisher for providing me with a DRC of this title to review. All opinions are my own. If you had asked me at about 10% into this book if I was going to keep going, or even what I thought of it in general, I would have told you it was DANGEROUSLY close to being in my small DNF pile. The only thing that kept me going were: a. the author (I LOVED Bone Gap ), b. other reviews who mentioned a similar struggle getting going, and c. the buzz surrounding this book and potential award list talk. I am SO GLAD I kept going. By the time I got past 25%, I was hooked. The last half flew by. Highly recommend for readers who are interested in the time period(s), magical realism, ghosts, feminism, allegories, life in general. My ONE complaint: I cared about one of the story lines so much more than the other one, which made it hard to stay as invested, especially at the end. I liked Frankie well enough, but the story of Pearl and her ghost, her history, her death, everything, was incredibly engaging and one that I didn't want to give up to read about Frankie's family. Overall, this is a solid book with a twist on a ghost story. Highly recommend.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Arianna Thomas

    This was an interesting read, I borrowed the audio on my Libby app and listened to it during work and commute. I had honestly not realized that the narrator was a ghost until halfway through the book and then went back and read the synopsis where it actually tells you they're ghosts. Overall, this was a good book to listen to as background noise. I still picked up on the story and didn't lose much of the plot if I stepped away for a second at work. I also especially liked that it mostly followed This was an interesting read, I borrowed the audio on my Libby app and listened to it during work and commute. I had honestly not realized that the narrator was a ghost until halfway through the book and then went back and read the synopsis where it actually tells you they're ghosts😆. Overall, this was a good book to listen to as background noise. I still picked up on the story and didn't lose much of the plot if I stepped away for a second at work. I also especially liked that it mostly followed an Italian immigrant family in Chicago, because that's exactly what my grandparents story is and it was nice to see my own family history reflected in a novel.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Carli

    /5. There is nothing like a supernatural story when the weather turns chilly, and this one...wow. In World War II era Chicago, Frankie and her siblings are left at an orphanage by her father. She thinks it is temporary, but as the months stretch into years she must find a way to come to terms with a shattered America and her fractured life. Watching the entire time, a ghost with a past she cannot face is rooting for Frankie, while begging her to not make the same choices she made. Haunting and ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️/5. There is nothing like a supernatural story when the weather turns chilly, and this one...wow. In World War II era Chicago, Frankie and her siblings are left at an orphanage by her father. She thinks it is temporary, but as the months stretch into years she must find a way to come to terms with a shattered America and her fractured life. Watching the entire time, a ghost with a past she cannot face is rooting for Frankie, while begging her to not make the same choices she made. Haunting and memorable. Recommended for grades 9+.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Samantha

    I reveled in the pure creativity of this one all the way through. It's a story about pain and memory and girlhood and tragedy and living...and dying. And it's about hope. I loved the somewhat split narrative - how creative it was and how much it added to the story. There was so much depth here. It's a 4.5 in my opinion but I had to give it 5 stars because it's unlike anything I've ever read before and I will hold this one in my head and in my heart for a long while.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Sonja

    A ghost who died in 1918 watches over and tells the story of Frankie, abandoned in the Guardian Orphanage in Chicago. Laura Ruby has such a good way of putting words together. This story is complicated and tender, sad and beautiful. Also, the title is so dramatic and fun to say. I was utterly enthralled and even more taken with it after learning - at the end - that it is based on the life story of Ruby’s mother-in-law.

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