Donna Grassby


Kate’s Ring is a marvellous story, a modern day Anne of Green Gables, gritty, sometimes desperate, tender, and in the end triumphant. It tears at your heart.
— Sandra Birdsell, CM, author of Children of the Day and The Russlander
Uncompromising and filled with compassion, Donna Grassby’s “Kate’s Ring” reminds us that the best of YA fiction is profoundly human. Hers is a strong new voice in Canadian literature, and one to be celebrated.
— Martha Brooks, author, winner of the Governor General's Award for "True Confessions of a Heartless Girl”
Kate’s Ring is an inspiring and sensitively written story of the triumph of youth in the face of trauma and loss. The author beautifully weaves the landscape and traditions of Nova Scotia into a tale of a family struggling to face suffering and find hope and meaning in their lives. Despite the losses she has to face, the young heroine finds her way through, redeemed by love.
— Marcella Hannon Shields, Ph.D., Psychologist, Author of: Once Upon a Time, There Was a Little Girl
Kate’s Ring, a captivating, heart warming and heartbreaking coming of age story. Reminiscent of Anne of Green Gables but much tougher. Kate (13) navigates the contrary expectations of adults as she struggles to keep her family together. Believable, complex characters bring to life industrial and rural Cape Breton in the 1920s. An outstanding work.
— Louise Klinke Øhrstrøm, Award winning Danish author, Efter Rosinen, Krig, Julian of Norwich
While Kate’s Ring may have been written for high school students, this adult found the novel interesting, informative, compelling, often very moving and ultimately satisfying.

As a priest and educator, I see enormous potential for the use of Kate’s Ring as a teaching tool not just in literature, but in courses assisting young students to understand and navigate the tensions and trials of human relationships.

Kate’s eventual understanding that people’s very different reactions to similar issues, despite the alienation that their differences cause, actually help each group to deal with their struggles. Further, her realization that neither group should be disparaged is a powerful source for reflection and discussion.

Likewise, Kate’s ability to recognize the difference between the compassionate Sisters and the rigid, uncompromising Nun can challenge the reader to let go of stereotypes. Even the improvident alcoholic Father is not all bad.

By the end of the book, one has the clear sense that God, who often seems not to be listening has heard and answered all of Kate’s prayers… what a conversation that could lead to…
— John Lee CP, Priest, Educator, New York City
Thirteen-year-old Kate might wish for a ring just as her best friend has–Grace has an heirloom opal ring from her grandmother–but Kate’s Ring is bigger than a child’s dream to possess something special. That’s because Kate’s ring is not one of gold or silver but rather one of people and place.

Donna Grassby embeds (this) story of loss and hardship in families of different shapes. It’s family created, sustained and reconfigured that makes Kate’s Ring real for the time and for now. How (Kate’s) family will survive and in what configuration is only resolved through Donna Grassby’s poignant storytelling, both heartbreaking and hopeful.
— Exerpt from extensive review by Helen Kubiw, CanLit for Little Canadians, Reviewer/Blogger, Eden Mills Ontario.
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Youth Reviews

A real eye-opener and heart-wrencher! Donna transports her readers to the ‘20s, investing them in the lives of a struggling family. Her forthright dialogue, relatable characters and thought-provoking topics explore issues that mirror concerns in today’s society. Donna is able to connect with and enlighten her audience on these topics through her characters’ variety of perspectives - something of which I really appreciated in the book.
— Jocelyn Coulombe (age 18) Caledon ON, May 2018
I thoroughly enjoyed this novel, finding it relatable and captivating. The characters were strong individuals, bringing their unique points of view to each chapter and each facing their own demons. It was a great read and brought me right into the world of Cape Breton in the early 1900s. I think this book is great for all ages, offering a taste of history and a heartwarming view of family struggles and perseverance.
— S.G., (age 16) Toronto, ON. May 2018
Kate’s Ring is a fascinating book about a brave girl who, despite the challenges, took care of her family even when it was not her job to do. Her selflessness is inspiring and her journey to help support not only herself, but also her 5 siblings, is beautiful. It brought me into another time and made me realize just how hard it could’ve been to live in the 1900’s. I loved the book.
— Ysabel (age 14) Newmarket ON, April 2018

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