Reviewed by Rosie Malezer for Readers' Favorite
Just Kidding is Ruby’s prequel novella in the Sorrento series, written by Jianna Higgins. Ruby Smith is knowledgeable in many things. As a former action junkie in her youth, riding motorcycles, flying airplanes, skiing and four-wheel driving made up just a fragment of her adventurous lifestyle. Now in her mid-seventies, Ruby lives in a nursing home due to the fact that she’d suffered a stroke in later life. This in no way impedes Ruby’s talent for getting into mischief, as she single-handedly finds a way make life a little easier for those at the home by removing a trouble-maker from their midst. Ruby’s no-nonsense attitude gains her respect from both staff and residents alike, including that of an elderly Deaf resident, Eddie, as they embark in small talk using American Sign Language, thus starting a wonderful new friendship. In trying to escape the threat of being moved to a poorly run residential facility, Ruby utilizes every skill set she has in order to avoid the one person who has the power to send her away.
I found Just Kidding to be one of the most interesting books I have read in some time. Corruption amongst authority figures is a tough battle to take on, yet Ruby Smith seems to know all the right tricks, spoken and non verbal, to sidetrack those on her tail. Jianna Higgins has done an incredible job with this story, as it has reeled me in, hook, line and sinker, eager to seek out the Sorrento series and find out more about Ruby and her friends. Although Just Kidding obviously carries a strong theme of humor, the other aspects give pause, making the reader think carefully about how they would possibly react if one of their relatives or friends were in Ruby’s situation. As a Deaf reader, I was pleasantly surprised by the American Sign Language addition to the storyline, as it brings about a spark of hope for Deaf readers who run into audism in everyday life. Seeing Deaf and hearing communicate so easily is a dream come true for many. Ruby’s ability to sign, think, plot and plan, as well as her softer side (which is rarely seen by any but her closest friends) make her a character which not only makes the reader smile, but also see what else they can find out about those who live at the nursing facility. I wholeheartedly enjoyed Just Kidding and recommend this book to readers who enjoy a good laugh or three.