Way Down Deep by Ruth White, is set in Virginia in the Appalachian Mountains in a small town named Way Down Deep, but the title has a meaning deeper than the name of the town.
The reader learns about several adults who have issues with their past and live in the town and at the Roost, the boarding house where Ruby has lived since she arrived in Way Down Deep.
As the plot is revealed, the reader sees many of the characters looking way down deep in their hearts and souls to face their problems so that they may live happily in the present. The past sorrows of many of their lives had twisted their outlook on life in a negative way.
Ruby and her guardian, Miss Arbutus, express their deep feelings and in doing so show the others a way to communicate and help themselves to live productive lives.
Ruby realizes that life holds its sorrows and “bitter berries,” but life also holds many happy moments if you are open to receive them.
This book is a great book talk for grades 5 and up. I found it to be a therapeutic read that opened me up to an optimistic view on life. Way Down Deep is a book many adults who work with children should read.
In the sequel, The Treasure of Way Down Deep, Ruby is celebrating her thirteenth birthday, in 1955, with everyone at the Roost and school friends when she receives a gift from a six-year-old child, Rita, who is staying at the Roost and going to school with Ruby. The gift appears to be an old button, but later, Ruby realizes it is a “piece of eight” and may be part of a treasure that the man who started the town is rumored to have buried. Ruth White has a gift to make her characters authentic and true. She shows through her characters how we as readers can choose to be good to ourselves and each other. Like in the first book, Miss Arbutus, has dreams that show events that happen in the story. She sees a man in her dream that tells her that Ruby’s birthday wish will come true. Ruby pursues the treasure, but the real treasure is the love that the people in Way Down Deep have for the children and each other. I highly recommend this series to people of all ages. I put this one up at the top of the list of the best books I have ever read.