Trailer Park Heart by Rachel Higginson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Ruby: grew up in a trailer park, with her mother (former stripper, now she manages the strip club.) Ruby dreams of leaving the trailer park and her town behind her.
Levi: rich boy who teases and antagonizes Ruby all through high school.
At a graduation party, Ruby sleeps with Levi's older brother, Logan. She gets pregnant, destroying all her dreams of escape. Logan dies before she can tell him; and since it was a one night stand, she doesn't tell anyone else.
Fast forward: Ruby is a struggling single mom, adores her son, works as a waitress.
Levi returns to town.
But the big secret of her son's paternity may destroy their relationship.
OK, there was a lot I liked about this story. At the start of the story, Ruby at 25 still sees the world and terms of us/them and slowly, she does begin to realize that's not how the world works. Everyone isn't against her. Part of the "trailer park trash" label is her judging herself and so she takes everything as a slight, an insult, a judgment. I like character growth.
I also liked the romance between Ruby and Levi.
And I like what Ruby is trying to do for her son, to have a better life, even if on the surface (raising her son in the same trailer she was raised) it looks like it's just repeating the mistakes of her mother and grandmother.
What I didn't like: Ruby's dreams for herself, not just for escape but also ambitions for her future, are all set aside to be a "good mom" but her end goal of "good mom" is so her son can do what she didn't: leave the town when he graduates high school. He's in elementary school, and she's already deciding what he should do as an adult; that he's going to WANT to leave. And I also didn't fully buy that Ruby's college dreams were all or nothing and never returned to.
I couldn't get a handle on Ruby's mom. I think she's supposed to be gruff? Hear of gold? Misunderstood? But honestly sometimes she was just really mean and flip flopped on how supportive she was of Ruby.
And while I liked that the town and the people in it were less judgy than Ruby believes, it was also too much of a turnaround from "ugh I'm the town pariah" to "hey everyone is actually nice.