Born with Down syndrome, Ruby Jean Sharp comes from a time when being a developmentally disabled person could mean growing up behind locked doors and barred windows and being called names like "retard" and "moron." When Ruby Jean's caregiver and loving grandmother dies, her mother takes her to Woodlands School in New Westminster, British Columbia, and rarely visits. As Ruby Jean herself says: "Can't say why they called it a school -- a school's a place you go for learnin an then after you get to go home. I never learnt much bout ledders and numbers, an I sure never got to go home." It's here in an institution that opened in 1878 and was originally called the Provincial Lunatic Asylum that Ruby Jean learns to survive isolation, boredom, and every kind of abuse. Just when she can hardly remember if she's ever been happy, she learns a lesson about patience and perseverance from an old crow.
Gina McMurchy-Barber was the recipient of the 2004 Governor General's Award for Excellence in Teaching Canadian History. She majored in archaeology at Simon Fraser University, studied orangutans in Borneo under Dr. Birute Galdikas, and led backpack tours to Asia and South America. Her first novel, Reading the Bones, was nominated for the Silver Birch Award and the Langley Book of the year Award. She lives in Surrey, British Columbia.