Ruby - Cynthia Bond

Wednesday, April 01, 2015

Ruby (Oprah's Book Club 2.0)
Author: Cynthia Bond
Published by: Hogarth

Summary from Goodreads:
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.

I had such a hard time reading this book. I really wanted to like it because 1) It's an Oprah Book Club selection and 2) It has a 3.71 rating on Goodreads but...I just couldn't. 

The book is slow. Sooooo slow. In the beginning, Ephram is trying to take Ruby some cake. It takes him over 100 pages to get it there. 

The scenes, though beautifully written, don't always make sense. 

For example: Bond writes a flashback to when Ephram first saw Ruby, when the two of them were children. Ephram was at a lake and Ruby and her friend are around there as well. As soon as Ephram sees Ruby he falls for her. It starts to rain and Ruby's friend thinks that they should all go to this voodoo woman's house to get out of it. While there, the voodoo witch makes Ephram and the friend wait outside while she dispels whatever Ruby has within her. We don't actually know what is going on. And what I don't understand is why the friend wanted to take Ruby to this witch in the first place. We don't really know what is within Ruby. And we don't really know how the friend knows, or why she even trusts, this voodoo woman since no one else in the town seems to. The voodoo woman herself seems overly cartoonish. She is described as having yellow eyes and seems like what one would think a voodoo witch is in a fairytale or something. 

The characters didn't invoke any feelings in me. I don't feel compelled to feel anything for Ephram and though the book is called Ruby, by the time we actually learn anything about her I've wasted too much time not caring that conjuring enough emotion to care just seems too tiring. 

Which brings me to  what we find out about Ruby's past. It was pretty horrible. This is where I would like to warn people who need a heads-up when reading dark or violent material. The summary does not really describe what takes place within the pages. There are very graphic scenes of rape, violence, and murder. I have no problem with reading these things as long as there is some kind of point, moral, or if it helps to further the book and the characters along. This didn't seem to be the case in the book. What makes it worse is that Bond mixes these horrific experiences with a voodoo-esque supernatural quality that doesn't work for me. Perhaps it was her way of trying to water down the details but I absolutely hated it. 

The only redeeming quality of this book is the way Bond  weaves her words. It's almost like poetry. Her words and sentences are lyrical and very easy to envision. 

"He wanted to tell her about the knot corded about his heart and how he needed her to help to loose the binding." 

"Some folk say after time she come to love him. Others say she jes' give in to shame. Me, I don't know much, 'cept that he chased her all the way to lonely."

All in all, I was disappointed in this book. Anytime I put it down it took a great deal to pick it back up again. By the end I was reading the words without really taking them in or putting any emotions behind them. I could not care about any of the characters and wished that the entire plot, whatever it was, would have ended sooner.

I give this book 1 out of 5 cateyes.

*I received this book free from Blogging for Books. All opinions are my own.*

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  1. Aw bummer. You keep getting the books that are a good idea but aren't executed well. If it takes a character 100 pages just to make a cake, I would probably hate it too.

  2. Yeah. I took a note out of your book and ordered a cook book as my next Blogging for Book review. I think I'm going to give fiction a rest.