Release Date: April 29, 2014
Book Description: The epic, unforgettable story of a man determined to protect the woman he loves from the town desperate to destroy her—this beautiful and devastating debut heralds the arrival of a major new voice in fiction.
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, “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 Bell 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.
Full of life, exquisitely written, and suffused with the pastoral beauty of the rural South, Ruby is a transcendent novel of passion and courage. This wondrous page-turner rushes through the red dust and gossip of Main Street, to the pit fire where men swill bootleg outside Bloom’s Juke, to Celia Jennings’s kitchen where a cake is being made, yolk by yolk, that Ephram will use to try to begin again with Ruby. Utterly transfixing, with unforgettable characters, riveting suspense, and breathtaking, luminous prose, Ruby offers an unflinching portrait of man’s dark acts and the promise of the redemptive power of love.
Wanda's Thoughts: The story takes place in Liberty, a small southern town in Texas.
“Ruby was the kind of pretty it hurt to look at, like candy on a sore tooth.” Her mother abandoned her when she was very young. Ruby was a black girl being raised by a white woman to clean her house. From little up, her life had been filled with horrendous abuse, and the people of Liberty avoided her. Ruby lived her entire life in pure agony.
Ephram had been a preacher’s son, and his mother was placed in a mental institution when he was just a child. There was nothing special about Ephram. The people of Liberty didn’t notice him; pretty much looking past him. He worked at bagging groceries, and carried grocery bags to “the white folks” shiny automobiles. Ephram had loved Ruby since he was a boy, and throughout the story he is determined to save her.
Celia is Ephram’s sister, and she has raised him since he was 8, and she was just 14, and Ephram calls her Mama. At age 19 their father was found murdered, and Celia begins a life following Christ. “Satan set his hounds agin’ me, with a powerful mind to win me. But he chase me so high-hard, I run straight to the arms of God.” Celia had invented hundreds of what she called “Sanctified Saids” over the years. Celia was a strong, well developed character, that I found interesting.
Positive comments – The usage of the vernacular makes this story very authentic. And the descriptive writing was outstanding with well-developed characters.
Unfortunately, it became obvious from the very beginning, this book and I were not meant to be. I found it to be very strange and troubling with its exceedingly dark storyline – very depressing – and I felt uncomfortable reading it. The voodoo rituals were overdone and I just wasn’t able to get into that part of the story at all. This was a powerful, but very disturbing novel, and I would not recommend it. My rating is 2.5 stars.
I received a complimentary ARC from Library Thing Early Reviewers.