In this New York Times Best Seller & Oprah’s Book Club Pick, Cynthia Bond brings us the dramatic tale of Ruby Bell.
As soon as it was possible, Ruby had run far from the town on Liberty. Devastating tragedy during years of racial violence & segregation had completely soured her on her childhood home. With nothing to lose, she fled to more tolerant New York. Life is good for Ruby there. When she receives a telegram from her cousin, Ruby knows she has no choice but to return to Liberty again. Finding hidden strength, she travels back to the town that nearly destroyed her.
Not everyone there is bad. Ephraim Jennings has hidden his love for Ruby since there were kids. He remembers her as she was back then. Other townsfolk have much different opinions. Ruby’s family has an awful reputation in the town. Between the lack of sympathy & terrors of the past, Ruby has a breakdown of sorts.
She begins wandering the town, howling, & acting erratic. Ephraim knows there is no end to Ruby’s pain. Is it still possible for her to heal? If there’s any chance, Ephraim will try. It’s time Ruby felt loved.
Upfront, I will say this book is extremely violent. Rape (of all kinds), racially motivated murder, & more are all included. Unless one lives under a rock per se, readers are well aware of the atrocities of the era before Civil Rights. That being said, is it really necessary to put such depth into the telling of such crimes? Had it been non-fiction, then yes. But in a fiction piece, where the focus was essentially to be on Ruby, I found myself literally overwhelmed by emotion. So heinous were these crimes, that I couldn’t focus on the next scene. Every bit of the book is emotionally draining.
Also, upfront, I will say there is an incredible, excessive amount of Voodoo in the book. These scenes of incantations & possession were completely unnecessary & do little but confuse the reader. Ill-conceived supporting characters weaving spells & making potions aren’t my cup of tea. Our author is so incredibly talented that she should have stayed on track with Ruby’s journey only.
Most dialogue portions are written in a Southern drawl & typical phrasing from the time period. Yes, there are an abundance of racial slurs. Yes, there is a ton of bad grammar & slang sayings. The bright spot in ‘Ruby’ is the obvious talent of the writer.
Her beautiful descriptions & skill at story telling in general are fabulous. I wish an editor or friend would have advised her that the scenes were too graphic & the book was so taxing to read. It could have been salvaged into a beautiful love story of redemption & forgiveness. Instead, it was overshadowed by a hatred filled town & the burdens of a past too traumatic to overcome. It’s 3 stars from me.
I received a copy in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are mine.