Probably Ruby: A Novel
An Indigenous woman adopted by white parents goes in search of her identity in this unforgettable debut novel about family, race, and history.
Finalist for the Governor General's Literary Award • “Engaging . . . Ruby never disappoints with her big heart and outrageous sense of humor—and her resilient search for her own history.”—The New York Times Book Review
“A passionate exploration of identity and belonging and a celebration of our universal desire to love and be loved.”—Imbolo Mbue, author of Behold the Dreamers
This is the story of a woman in search of herself, in every sense. When we first meet Ruby, a Métis woman in her thirties, her life is spinning out of control. She’s angling to sleep with her counselor while also rekindling an old relationship she knows will only bring more heartache. But as we soon learn, Ruby’s story is far more complex than even she can imagine.
Given up for adoption as an infant, Ruby is raised by a white couple who understand little of her Indigenous heritage. This is the great mystery that hovers over Ruby’s life—who her people are and how to reconcile what is missing. As the novel spans time and multiple points of view, we meet the people connected to Ruby: her birth parents and grandparents; her adoptive parents; the men and women Ruby has been romantically involved with; a beloved uncle; and Ruby’s children. Taken together, these characters form a kaleidoscope of stories, giving Ruby’s life dignity and meaning.
Probably Ruby is a dazzling novel about a bold, unapologetic woman taking control of her life and story, and marks the debut of a major new voice in Indigenous fiction.
Praise for Probably Ruby: A Novel
“In a time when truth is coveted, Probably Ruby is a refreshing reminder of the realities of forced Indigenous adoption and family separation. Bird-Wilson’s writing is at times poetic and ever compelling. We are fortunate to have her and Ruby among us.”—The Washington Post
“A bighearted portrait of an Indigenous woman whose transracial adoption spurs a lifelong quest to discover—or perhaps create—her identity.”—Kirkus Reviews
“A well-paced, alluringly written story [and] a wonderful character study . . . Indigenous authors are creating the most noteworthy books of the year.”—Shondaland (10 Must-Read Books by Indigenous Authors)
“An intimate and nuanced illumination of Ruby as a woman surviving in the face of painful family history, colonialism, and patriarchy. Tender, funny, and brimming with the desire to love and be loved, Probably Ruby is a moving narrative about Indigenous identity and belonging.”—Electric Literature
“A wonderful book for fans of casually queer novels . . . A kaleidoscopic story about Ruby, an Indigenous woman adopted by white parents, and her search to find herself and her place in the world.”—Book Riot
“Writing from the depths of her heart, Lisa Bird-Wilson has gifted us a passionate exploration of identity and belonging and a celebration of our universal desire to love and be loved.”—Imbolo Mbue, bestselling and award-winning author of How Beautiful We Were and Behold the Dreamers
“In Probably Ruby, Lisa Bird-Wilson . . . effectively captures the sadness, anger, loneliness, and alienation that Indigenous children lost to the child-welfare system are plagued by as they search for a sense of meaning and identity. By turns raw, tender, funny, despairing, and hopeful, Probably Ruby tells a story that needs hearing.”—Michelle Good, author of Five Little Indians
“Probably Ruby reminds us that our stories are acts of survival. That it’s not ‘so much the question of what [we’ve] inherited, but what [we] do with it.’ That grief, too, can be a gift. Written in prose to be savored, Bird-Wilson’s novel and its heroine will stay with me for a long time.”—Kelli Jo Ford, author of Crooked Hallelujah
“This multifaceted narrative sparkles with life as we piece together Ruby’s story, starting before she is even born. It is utterly heartbreaking that… we see parts of Ruby’s life that she herself cannot perceive, a compelling chord that stays with us throughout the novel. This is a beautiful, unusual, and insightful story about the lost pieces of one woman’s life and Indigenous identity.”—Christy Lefteri, bestselling author of Songbirds and The Beekeeper of Aleppo
“Lisa Bird-Wilson takes us along on a woman’s deeply poignant journey in search of self, identity, and the reclaiming of an Indigenous heritage that has been taken from her.”—Cheryl Lu-Lien Tan, author of Sarong Party Girls