Synopsis: Seventeen-year-old Ruby Fields has always lived by the rules set up by her foolishly overprotective mother. As a result, she doesn’t go to school, she’s never been kissed, and almost everything she knows about life is what she has learned from old movies.
But now there’s this Joshua guy. He’s quirky, and he’s tall, and he uses “romantic” and “old-fashioned” in the same sentence.
And there’s Mrs. Wheeler, an eccentric retired Hollywood costume designer and Ruby’s new best friend.
When Mrs. Wheeler ends up in the hospital only a couple of days after telling Ruby her long-kept secret, Ruby decides to break her mother’s rules and embark on a journey that will change her life forever.
This heartfelt story will appeal both to young readers and adults who still remember the pain and beauty of growing up.
Characters: The novel is told in the voice of Ruby, a shy 17 year old girl who feels like she should have been born in another time period. Her best friend is 78 year old Mrs. Wheeler, who takes a turn for the worse halfway through the novel. Then there’s Joshua, a sardonic but adventurous and optimistic guy with Tourette’s Syndrome. Other characters include the many people Ruby and Joshua encounter on their journey to find Mrs. Wheeler’s long-lost relative, and Ruby’s mother who I found irritatingly stupid, but that may be because I’m a mother as well and wouldn’t subject my children to what she did. All of their characters had realistic flaws and strong points, and were easy to empathize with.
Plot: When Mrs. Wheeler’s health takes a turn for the worse, Ruby decides to find her long-lost daughter, who Mrs. Wheeler had to give up at birth, and reunite them before the former passes away. Joshua, who has feelings for Ruby, occompanies her across a couple of states. Along the way, they learn a lot about themselves, each other, and the world in general. The events flowed smoothly without any hesitation or dullness. They were realistic, except for the part where Ruby’s nuerotic mother accepts that she’s in another state with a guy. I expected her to race down the highway and snatch up her daughter. But then again, she didn’t seem to have any clue how to be a mother. But it was a good thing because Ruby was able to carry out her plans.
Writing: The plot isn’t the only thing that shines in this novel. Veen’s ability to create emotion from words is stellar. The combination of great sentence structure, description, and character development helped me get lost in the novel. I would recommend Just Like A Musical to all lovers of young adult with a penchant for some romance and non-traditional storylines.