This month’s FYA Book Club selection is The Ruby in the Smoke (Sally Lockhart #1) by Philip Pullman. Check out the discussion questions below! (Slight spoilers ahead.)

P.S. If you’ve already read the book, feel free to add any other discussion questions of your own in the comments!


Sally inherited this massive, evil ruby. Is there anything you’ve ever inherited or wanted to inherit from one of your relatives?


1. At the heart of The Ruby in the Smoke is one young woman’s struggle to determine her own future.

  • What barriers stand in Sally Lockhart’s way?
  • How do her guardians view her fearless independence?
  • What opportunities are available to a girl of Sally’s breeding?
  • How might Sally’s prospects differ if the novel were set in England today?
  • What would the book be like if you were Sally?

2. Discuss the role of family in The Ruby in the Smoke.

3. Why does her relationship with Frederick Garland simultaneously exhilarate her and leave her feeling like a child? Why is he so HOT?

4. On the surface, The Ruby in the Smoke appears to be a classic tale of good versus evil. How does a closer read force us to re-examine this conclusion?

5. The Garlands turn their photographic studio solvent by selling stereoscopic tableaux. What scenes would you have chosen to depict in stereoscope?

This post was written by a guest writer or former contributor for Forever Young Adult.