The Center of Everything

Common Sense Media says

Sweet, funny story of girl recovering from grandma's death.





What parents need to know

Educational value

Although the story of the town's donut inventor is fictional (as clarified in the author's note), Ruby's research into the history of the donut and its geometry and possible links to time travel may spark interest in science and math fans. Ruby and her friend are library users and go there to research subjects of interest.

Positive messages

We're all connected, and people need to come together and be there for each other. Even if situations don't go how you think they should, things can turn out OK.

Positive role models

Ruby's a responsible kid who likes to do the right thing, sometimes to a fault. Her guilt over not being there for her grandma's last request makes her question her reputation as someone who will be there for whoever needs her. But ultimately she realizes that we can only do the best we can, and that's OK.

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Drinking, drugs, & smoking
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Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that Ruby's beloved grandmother dies before The Center of Everything begins. Ruby has a tough time getting over it and hasn't told anyone about the sadness that's weighing her down. Through some deep thinking and help of friends and family, she's able to come to terms with her grief.

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Kids say

What's the story?

Ruby's always done what she's supposed to do. Calm and competent, everyone relies on her not to be any trouble. But when her grandma Gigi dies, Ruby can't seem to get back on track even weeks after everyone else seems to have moved on. When she's chosen to be the Essay Girl at Bunning Day, the town's annual holiday to celebrate the inventor of donuts, she places all her faith in a wish made on a quarter tossed though a bronze donut. This, she hopes, will mend her relationships with her longtime best friend and a new friend, as well as fix the mistake she made on her grandma's last day. In chapters that alternate between the Bunning Day parade and flashbacks of the events since her grandma's death, Ruby waits for the sign that everything will be all right.

Is it any good?


As in her previous novels Hound Dog True and A Crooked Kind of Perfect, Linda Urban perfectly captures the essence of being a sensitive tween girl wrestling with an internal problem in THE CENTER OF EVERYTHING. She addresses Ruby's grief with delicacy while highlighting the humorous aspects of her quirky town. Though this could not be called fast-paced, patient readers will stay interested as Urban gradually reveals the roots of Ruby's problems and retraces the events leading up to the Bunning Day celebration -- all of which adds up to a satisfying resolution.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about community festivals like Bunning Day. What are the advantages of in-person celebrations like this compared with social networking? What are some disadvantages?

  • Why do you think books and movies about small towns are so popular?

  • Can you think of other books that deal with the death of a loved one? Do you think it's important to include humor in a book about death?

Book details

Author:Linda Urban
Genre:Coming of Age
Book type:Fiction
Publisher:Harcourt Children's Books
Publication date:March 5, 2013
Number of pages:208
Publisher's recommended age(s):9 - 12
Available on:Hardback, Kindle, Nook

This review of The Center of Everything was written by

About our rating system

  • ON: Content is age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • PAUSE: Know your child; some content may not be right for some kids.
  • OFF: Not age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • NOT FOR KIDS: Not appropriate for kids of any age.

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Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging, great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging, good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging, good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging, okay learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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Kid, 11 years old August 14, 2014

I was so confused

I get what it's about but I wasn't following the story line and it kept on jumping from one thing to another. I usually give 4 star+ reviews but this book made NO sense at all PS I'm not going to put anything on "what should other families know about this" because I was SUPER confused


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