Review: Ruby by Cynthia Bond

Cynthia Bond’s Ruby was a haunting tale of life, violence and spirituality in Liberty Township, Texas. (Trigger Warning)

*This is book #11/35 for my 2015 book challenge. You can take a look at the reading challenge here.

Ruby by cynthia bond book cover

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.

Before we get started, I want to make it known that this book is a MAJOR trigger warning for anyone triggered by things such a sex trafficking, rape, or child molestation. 

This was a tough one to get through. An Oprah Book Club pick, I actually kind of anticipated this. The first quarter of the book felt like I was trudging through quick sand. It was slow-moving and sticky. Could barely hold my attention. And then, suddenly, I was sucked in. The story was so dark it was blinding. An oxymoron if I’ve ever read one. You wished you could shield your eyes and rip those children out of the story so that you could save them from the darkness that only you knew was about to fall onto their shoulders.

Another issue I had with the book was that, at times, it felt like it was trying too hard to be written well. Do you know what I mean? It could be that Cynthia teaches writing and is therefore more likely to be super strict on her own writing, but at times it felt like there were too much description and extra words. There were so many important plot points to get too that I sometimes wanted to rush the book to hurry up and get to the good stuff.

All and all, Cynthia Bond wrote a fantastic debut novel. The characters are authentic and raw, and the events will leave you speechless and angry (in the best possible ways). She tackles some of life’s most awful things – sex trafficking, child molestation, racism – and for that you cannot help but feel deeply for the characters in the book. It also raises an interesting point. That usually, the most righteous and religious tend to be the most sinful.

Rating4 star book review

If you’re interested in reading my GoodReads updates from this book you can do so here. I must say, they’re quite entertaining. It will tell you exactly what I was thinking on certain pages.

PLEASE NOTE: I received a free copy of this book from Blogging For Books in exchange for an honest review. All opinions held within this review are my own thoughts and feelings and do not reflect upon anyone else.

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