Laura Ruby Laura Ruby

Bad Apple

Bad Apple

For Tola Riley, life is not a fairy tale, it only feels like one. She's got evil classmates, a runaway dad, a wicked stepmother, a possible Prince Charming, and her very own troll. But it's only when someone accuses her of having an affair with her art teacher that her whole world turns into something out of Grimm's. Because the person accusing her is her own mother.

"If I really wanted to open up, I'd confess that I really am the liar everyone believes I am."

High-school junior Tola has green hair, a nose ring, an attitude problem, and a fondness for fairy tales, which are a great escape from real life. Everyone thinks she's crazy; everyone says so. Everyone except Mr. Mymer, her art teacher. He gets her paintings and lets her hang out in the art room during lonely lunch periods.

But then rumors start flying and Tola is suddenly the center of a scandal. The whole town is judging her—even her family. When Mr. Mymer is suspended for what everyone thinks is an affair, she has no choice but to break her silence. Fairy tales won't help her this time . . . so how can she tell the truth? And, more importantly, will anyone believe her?


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HarperTeen (October 2009), 256 pages, Ages 14 and up, ISBN: #978-0061243301



"Tola's narration pulls this complicated story together in a snarky, desperate, and poignant voice, interpolated with quotes from involved parties, wannabe involved parties, and anybody with a comment (including Tola's cat). There's wit and cleverness as well as sympathy in both the writing and in the touches of fairy-tale allusion. The take on Chelsea, Tola's former friend and now lying tormentor, is understanding but tough-minded, and it's a sound treatment of trolling both online and in real life. This is both an absorbing read and a thought-provoking one."
   —BCCB (Starred Review)

"Tola and her family are fascinating, quirky-yet-believable, and wholly likable. Ruby works in traditional fairy-tale elements (an evil stepmother, abandonment, Tola's name that references the Italian version of Cinderella) with wry humor. Ruby's thoughtful descriptions of art, artists, and the creative process are reminiscent of Brock Cole's Celine (1989). Visual artists will love this homage to creativity, and teens outside the status quo will find a kindred spirit in plucky Tola."

" turns hilarious and touching, almost heart-poundingly suspenseful. The protagonist, who is unconventional, insightful and full of angst, charms, and readers will be hoping for her success."
   —Kirkus Reviews

" ... an unusual and likable narrator... sarcastic and frustrated with her environment without seeming overly downcast or self-absorbed, and her passion for art and fairy tales is genuine and appealing. Artists, compassionate teens, and readers who enjoyed Good Girls will laugh, hurt, and roll their eyes along with this witty individualist of a heroine and her friends and supporters."
   —School Library Journal

" A creatively constructed story with a modern-day scandal."
   —Publishers Weekly

"If Tola and Speak's Miranda went to the same school, they'd have been grateful to find each other. Both girls are social outcasts with a weighty secret, both find a haven from the rest of school in the art room, and both share a similarly wry outlook on high school life. Ruby's novel has plenty to distinguish it, however. Tola is one of a kind—a creative artist with a distinct worldview heavily influenced by the Brothers Grimm. Tola's funny and sensitive narrative is interspersed with comments from family members, classmates, teachers, and Tola's sweet, handsome suitor, Seven. The other voices fill in the story and provide additional perspectives on a community caught in a trumped-up scandal and a family addressing real-life troubles."
   —The Horn Book

"Cleverly told in a full-on snarky tone that hides a smile behind its snarl, BAD APPLE is a thoroughly modern and highly entertaining anti-fairy tale that is as sweet and sour as the Granny Smith on the cover."
   —Reading Rants

"...a different perspective on the whole student-teacher affair. The ending was absolutely fabulous and had me in fits of laughter."

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