"Kate's Ring is a beautiful story about a family struggling to deal with illness and loss. The adults in Kate's family cannot solve their problems or even agree on how to try. Still, the whole family rallies, and this ring of family support allows them all to emerge from their tragedies with hope. Kate's Ring is a triumphant and moving coming-of-age story."
— Foreword Reviews Starred review
"Kate's Ring, by Donna Grassby, is a well-written, grittily realistic story set in 1925-6 Cape Breton about a 13-year-old girl taking on adult responsibilities in a dysfunctional family. Many readers may find that their own problems pale in comparison to Kate's. Other readers, those with challenges in their lives to do with family, will read this book and feel they are not alone. They may even gain some insights into their situation. . . In the last third of Kate's Ring, Kate is severely tested, not only by having to care for the younger children in a shack, but also by her mother's deteriorating physical and mental condition and tragic death. The hardest thing for Kate to accept is that she is not a superwoman and cannot do the impossible. It is this message that will resonate with readers of today, particularly those facing tough circumstances and decisions. The novel rings with authenticity, both in dialogue and in geographic and historic detail.
— CM Magazine
"Setting Kate's Ring in 1920s Cape Breton, Donna Grassby makes sure young readers see that childhood was not always about play and school. Sometimes it was whatever was needed to help the family out. And by contrasting life in towns and in rural areas, where you might or might not have electricity and plumbing, where travel happened by horse, car and train, and not all children were fortunate enough to go to school, Donna Grassby embeds that 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."
— CanLit for Little Canadians
"What did you like about the book? The story here is riveting, wondering just how it will all end up, how Kate will cope along with her family. The location of Cape Breton is very real and as alive as the characters.
Anything you did not like about the book. No.
To whom would you recommend this book? American kids encounter very few books written by Canadian authors that take place in Canada. The exposure here is really worth a read. It could be used as a classroom readaloud.
Rating: 1-5 (5 is an excellent or a Starred review) 4.5"
— Youth Services Book Review
"Use this novel to teach about equity in the classroom and society, to expose students to the issue of autism, and to demonstrate that a seeming disability might really be none other than a different way of perception and navigating daily life."
— Canadian Teacher Magazine
"Grassby's portrait of the urban and rural communities of Nova Scotia are filled with details of a bygone era, but astute readers will see contemporary echoes in Kate's tribulations."
"This is a very sad book, and so good. I enjoyed reading it, getting to know Kate and her family and "living" through the struggles with them. I could not put this book down because I had to find out what happened to Kate and her three brothers and two sisters. The characters are well developed and the book shows how families that stick together can help each other through adversity and devastatingly hard times. It shows what impact chronic illness and alcoholism has on, not just close relatives, but also extended family."
— Kiss the Book blog
"Kate's Ring, by Donna Grassby, is a well-written, grittily realistic story set in 1925-6 Cape Breton about a 13-year-old girl taking on adult responsibilities in a dysfunctional family. Many readers may find that their own problems pale in comparison to Kate's. Other readers, those with challenges in their lives to do with family, will read this book and feel they are not alone. They may even gain some insights into their situation. . . The novel rings with authenticity, both in dialogue and in geographic and historic detail. In an interview at the book's conclusion, Donna Grassby says that Kate's Ring is based on her mother's life, and that when her mother read the manuscript, she said, "That's the way it was." These experiences are now transformed into a work of art.
— Ruth Latta, author of Grace in Love
"History is so much more than names and dates, it is the texture of the everyday life of ordinary people. This novel eloquently depicts the reality of life in Whitney Pier for Kate and her family, but never becomes mired in bitterness or despair. Kate's difficult story is punctuated with love, resilience, kindness and, most importantly, hope."
— Canadian Children's Book News