Probably Ruby is her debut novel and her American debut
For readers of Tommy Orange’s There There and Terese Marie Mailhot’s Heart Berries, Probably Ruby is an audacious, brave and beautiful book about an adopted woman’s search for her Indigenous identity.
Relinquished as an infant, Ruby is placed in a foster home and finally adopted by Alice and Mel, a less-than-desirable couple who can’t afford to complain too loudly about Ruby’s Indigenous roots. But when her new parents’ marriage falls apart, Ruby finds herself vulnerable and in compromising situations that lead her to search, in the unlikeliest of places, for her Indigenous identity.
Unabashedly self-destructing on alcohol, drugs and bad relationships, Ruby grapples with the meaning of the legacy left to her. In a series of expanding narratives, Ruby and the people connected to her tell their stories and help flesh out Ruby’s history. Seeking understanding of how we come to know who we are, Probably Ruby explores how we find and invent ourselves in ways as peculiar and varied as the experiences of Indigenous adoptees themselves. Ruby’s voice, her devastating honesty and tremendous laugh, will not soon be forgotten.
Probably Ruby is a perfectly crafted novel, with effortless, nearly imperceptible shifts in time and perspective, exquisitely chosen detail, natural dialogue and emotional control that results in breathtaking levels of tension and points of revelation.
LISA BIRD-WILSON is a Saskatchewan Métis and nêhiyaw writer. Her fiction book, Just Pretending (Coteau Books, 2013), won four Saskatchewan Book Awards, including 2014 Book of the Year, was shortlisted for the Danuta Gleed Award, and was the 2019 One Book, One Province selection. Her debut poetry collection, The Red Files (Nightwood Editions, 2016), is inspired by family and archival sources, and reflects on the legacy of the residential school system and the fragmentation of families and histories. She is the chair of the Saskatchewan Ânskohk Writers Circle Inc. (SAWCI)—the group that hosts the Ânskohk Indigenous Literature Festival and the CEO of the Gabriel Dumont Institute of Native Studies and Applied Research Inc. in Saskatoon.