Friday, April 25, 2014

Ruby: A Novel

Title:  Ruby:  A Novel
Author:  Cynthia Bond
Publication Information:  Hogarth. 2014. 352 pages.
ISBN:  0804139091 / 978-0804139090

Book Source:  I received this book through the GoodReads First Reads program free of cost in exchange for an honest review.

Favorite Quote:  "Remember, baby, don't ever let a man mine you for your riches. Don't let him take a pick ax to that treasure in your soul. Remember, they can't get it until you give it to them. They might lie and try to trick you out of it, baby, and they'll try. They might lay a hand on you, or worse, they might break your spirit, but the only way they can get it is to convince you it's not yours to start with. To convince you there's nothing there but a lump of coal."

Liberty, Texas is the "colored folks' Liberty," a small rural town in East Texas. The first time Ephram Jennings sees Rub Bell is when they are both children. Ruby leaves the small town for New York City; a friend's death brings her back. The demons that made her run to New York return when she returns to Liberty. She struggles to survive, physically, mentally, and emotionally.

The town views her as crazy and someone to be made fun of and someone to be used. Everyone except for Ephram, who never lost his love for the little girl he once knew. Ephram lives with his "Mama," his sister Celia who raised him. He lives his lives by Celia's rules and never left Liberty.

Slowly, the book reveals the back story - why Celia raised Ephram, why their mother ended up in an insane asylum, what devastation Ruby survived, and what terrible secrets this small town holds.

This book takes on some extremely challenging topics - physical and psychological abuse, prostitution, abandonment, racism, and devil worship. Be prepared, this is not an easy read.

Ruby is by far one of the saddest and most disturbing books I have read in a long time. It is, however, beautifully written. The book slowly reveals the horrors that have been Ruby's life. It is so quietly done that I found myself reading past them, then stopping, going back, and reading, unbelieving of the revelation. I found myself reading certain passages several times to make sure they were saying what I thought they were saying.

Yet, running through the book is also the thread of unconditional love, a love that reminded me in some ways of Forrest Gump. Ephram Jennings is the "simple man from East Texas." Read some implications into the meaning of "simple" and you have the character of Ephram. His love is expressed in his unconditional openness and response to Ruby's story. "If you can bear to have lived it, I can at least bear to listen."

A horrifying and incredibly sad story in a book I could not put down.

Please share your thoughts and leave a comment. I would love to "talk" to you.


  1. I could not agree more! This is one of the most talnted young writers I have read in a long time.

    1. Thank you so much for stopping by. I have recommended this book to so many people. Always with the warning that it is very, very intense but so beautifully written that I could not put it down.