I appreciate the premise of this novel: If someone has had to bear abuse, the least we can do is listen.
Author Cynthia Bond has one of the main characters, Ephram, state it out here in Ruby:
He whispered into her ear, “I ain’t going nowhere. If you brave enough to live it, the least I can do is listen.” Ruby fought against the rise of hope. She lost when he said: “Girl, you a miracle of nature.”
The setting is a small Texas town, full of prejudice on all sides. When an original resident, Ruby Bell, returns there after a few years in New York City, her mental illness isn’t met with compassion. As the story unfolds, you start to understand why each character reacts as they do to her.
So I listened. The abuse was horrible. Even though it was a work of fiction, I know these things happen in real life and it is devastating.
But before the halfway mark, I decided to stop. Close this book. I couldn’t take anymore. I didn’t understand the Louisiana voodoo parts. I didn’t like the raunchy telling of sex scenes.
And honestly, I didn’t like hearing so much pain in a novel I was reading for pleasure.
I clicked off the page I was on and was about to delete the whole book from my Kindle. Then I remembered it was a review book that I had committed to read. So I trudged on.
Did it get better? Well, the writing was beautiful. Cynthia Bond can weave magic with her words. Such beauty there. She also was excellent at moving between past and present in unfolding her characters. And she showed me things I didn’t know before. I don’t think we should turn away from pain just because it’s uncomfortable; I did learn things here.
But her words were often just too explicit for me, the plot too burdensome, the spirits too strange.
So did I like this book? Not really.
Would I recommend it to others? Afraid not.
Were there redeeming things in this book anyway? Definitely. Just not enough for me.
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My thanks to Blogging for Books for the review copy of Ruby
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