Reading guide for Probably Ruby by Lisa Bird-Wilson

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Probably Ruby

A Novel

by Lisa Bird-Wilson

Probably Ruby by Lisa Bird-Wilson X
Probably Ruby by Lisa Bird-Wilson
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

     Not Yet Rated
  • First Published:
    Apr 2022, 288 pages

    Paperback:
    Jan 3, 2023, 288 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Lisa Butts
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About this Book

Reading Guide Questions Print Excerpt

Please be aware that this discussion guide will contain spoilers!

  1. The events of Ruby Valentine's life don't unfold chronologically in Probably Ruby. Why do you think Lisa Bird-Wilson made this choice? How did it influence your reading experience?
  2. Discuss Ruby's relationship with her adoptive parents, Alice and Mel. Does this change over time? Who owes who an apology? Who owes who forgiveness?
  3. Ruby is drawn to people who are also part Métis, like her counselor Kal and former partner Moe. Why do you think that is?
  4. Bird-Wilson writes that Ruby "spent her life being told she was chosen but constantly needing people to prove it." How do you see this playing out throughout the novel? Which characters "proved" this to Ruby in the end?
  5. How does her boyfriend Bart's death continue to affect Ruby throughout her life?
  6. Discuss how Ruby's addiction began. What are her triggers? Why do you think she continues to relapse?
  7. Did you feel Ruby's birth parents, Leon and Grace, had agency over their own lives and choices? Why or why not? What forces outside of their control were each of them dealing with?
  8. After Grace gives birth and goes back to her former life, "Everyone around her developed a case of collective amnesia. As if the Asylum weren't real, as if Grace hadn't endured the pain of birth, as if the dark-haired baby never made passage." How does it affect a person when their memories and experiences aren't validated? Have you seen this phenomenon before? If so, where?
  9. How does Ruby attempt to avoid the mistakes her parents made with her while raising her own children? Do you think she will be successful?
  10. When Ruby and her biological grandmother, Rose, finally meet, Bird-Wilson writes, "They talked for three days, non-stop. "How does meeting Rose change Ruby's sense of self? In what ways does Rose fill a hole that pained Ruby her entire life? What is the impact of meeting her family on Ruby's relationship to the "family pictures" she cultivated and collected over time?
  11. How much of who we are do you think is coded into our DNA? How much is due to the circumstances of our upbringing? Does any of this explain—or fail to explain—Ruby's life and choices?
  12. In what ways do you think Ruby's sense of self would be different if she'd known her birth family, or if her adoptive parents had been more open with her about her roots?
  13. What roles do prejudice and discrimination play in the novel—and in Ruby's life specifically? What about the concept of "passing"?
  14. "Sometimes we choose our family and sometimes we are chosen," Bird Wilson writes. "We're lucky and we're unlucky." In what ways was Ruby lucky and unlucky? Which members of her family did she choose?
  15. In what ways did Probably Ruby surprise you, or cause you to consider a different perspective? Discuss.


Unless otherwise stated, this discussion guide is reprinted with the permission of Hogarth Books. Any page references refer to a USA edition of the book, usually the trade paperback version, and may vary in other editions.

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