02 June, 2015

#BookReview :: Ruby by Cynthia Bond

Ephram Jennings has never forgotten the beautiful girl with the long braids running through the piney woods of Liberty, their small East Texas town. Young Ruby Bell, “the kind of pretty it hurt to look at,” has suffered beyond imagining, so as soon as she can, she flees suffocating Liberty for the bright pull of 1950s New York. Ruby quickly winds her way into the ripe center of the city--the darkened piano bars and hidden alleyways of the Village--all the while hoping for a glimpse of the red hair and green eyes of her mother. When a telegram from her cousin forces her to return home, thirty-year-old Ruby finds herself reliving the devastating violence of her girlhood. With the terrifying realization that she might not be strong enough to fight her way back out again, Ruby struggles to survive her memories of the town’s dark past. Meanwhile, Ephram must choose between loyalty to the sister who raised him and the chance for a life with the woman he has loved since he was a boy.

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This is one hell of a book. I had to put it down, only to pick it back up a number of times before I could finish it. No, it wasn’t that bad… It was that GOOD. Remarkable! And it actually makes writing this review very difficult.

The novel opens with Ephram Jennings who has been in love with Ruby since he was a boy. While people avoided, made fun of and even threw stones at Ruby now, all Ephram could see was the girl that she once was. It seemed like he was the only one in the world who ever cared for her. But Ephram has to make a choice between the girl he loves and the sister who has raised him… Ruby had been a pretty little thing. She had been left alone at the age of six and things have only spiraled downwards for her. It was no surprise that she escaped to New York City as soon as she could. But a letter from back home brings her back to the small town of Liberty. She spirals for the worst – to a point where she cannot trust any other human being to not hurt her in some way or the other. Will she survive the hand that life has dealt her?

My heart cried for Ruby! Every bad thing that you can imagine happening to a person has happened to Ruby. As the storyline moves back and forth, we can see what and when things happened and how it shook her to the core. It was through the ever patient Ephram, that the whole web untangles slowly, reaching out to Ruby. It was both mesmerizing and horrifying to find out how the whole town was connected to what happened to Ruby. It is ironic that the town is called Liberty as I have never seen (or read about) a so twisted, hypocritical and oppressive town before.

The book has a slow start and it took me a couple of chapters to get into the rhythm of things. Also, it was a really difficult book to read because of its content – rape, molestation, incest, murder, child abuse, gang rape, racism… there is nothing that doesn’t happen in Liberty. But end of the day, it is a book that reflects our society today. None of the aforementioned issues are mythical – they are all very real even if it is hard to accept. I have wanted to wring the life out of so many characters in this book at some point or the other. The author’s writing is amazing. The style and the narration are nothing short of exemplary.  Yet it is the plot that will remain with me forever.

This book doesn’t promise a happy ending or rainbows and sunshine. It shows harsh reality in form of fiction by taking the dark side of humanity and putting it in front of the world. The sensitive theme of the book will make difficult for some people to read and accept it. Some may even hate it. It is very clear that this book is not for everyone.

Review Copy received via Blogging for Books via NetGalley

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for the review. Added this to my wishlist.