Selected for Oprah's Book Club 2.0
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, 30-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 pause-resister 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.
©2014 Cynthia Bond (P)2014 Random House Audio
"Reading Cynthia Bond's Ruby, you can't help but feel that one day this book will be considered a staple of our literature, a classic. Lush, deep, momentous, much like the people and landscape it describes, Ruby enchants not just with its powerful tale of lifelong quests and unrelenting love, but also with its exquisite language. It is a treasure of a book, one you won't soon forget." (Edwidge Danticat, author of Claire of the Sea Light)
"A stunning debut. Ruby is unforgettable." (John Rechy, author of City of Night)
"Pure magic. Every line gleams with vigor and sound and beauty. Ruby somehow manages to contain the darkness of racial conflict and cruelty, the persistence of memory, the physical darkness of the piney woods and strange elemental forces, and weld it together with bright seams of love, loyalty, friendship, laced with the petty comedies of small-town lives. Slow tragedies, sudden light. This stunning debut delivers and delivers and delivers." (Janet Fitch, author of White Oleander)
Bookworm, librarian, chocaholic. Give me a good book, a bar of chocolate and a glass of fine wine and I'm a happy lady.
Heartbreaking, Shocking, Disturbing.
Ruby reminded me in some ways of Toni Morrison's classic tale of slavery, 'Beloved.' Whilst the main protagonist, Ruby, was not a slave in the normal sense she did inhabit a world where some unfortunate children become slaves to the modern horror of child prostitution and a world where adults who are meant to care for them actually buy and sell them with impunity.
I don't normally enjoy stories which are narrated by their author. However, Cynthia Bond's languid, emotional style of delivery and her southern accent helped to convey the undercurrents and anomalies that existed in the society of Texas' Liberty township. Her lack of acting experience/skills made the variety of voices noticeably limited; but overall she did a really good job.
Yes. I so wish I could have listened to this in one sitting. I listened to it in huge chunks and this helped the mounting horror of Ruby's story to really have an impact on me. By the end I was close to tears and truly shocked.
This book deserves all of the praise that has been heaped on it in my opinion. It also deserves its place on the 2016 shortlist of the Baileys Prize for Fiction (in UK.) It is a love story but in a very complex plot that involves religious hypocrisy, good and evil, sibling relationships, the power of communities to isolate oddballs, sexual politics, child rape & prostitution, lynchings, supernatural beliefs, family loyalty, the need to be different and breaking free of the ties that bind.
You will be shocked and horrified by the cruelty and inhumane treatment handed out to Ruby and her relatives. You will weep for Ephram, her friend and lover. You will rage at the actions of Celia and her father. You will be horrified by the attitudes of the town's population towards Ruby and aghast at the actions of so-called religious people. The two-fold denouement of Ruby's history and the reasons for Ephram's mother's mental health meltdown are truly shocking and will live with me for years to come.
This will probably enter my 'top twenty modern books.'
A difficult subject matter, very harrowing. The performance was superb and kept me engrossed. Excellent Audio book.
While the book was well written and masterful use of language the story itself was a 12 hour punishing and disturbing tail. I have read hundreds of books my life and this is probably the first time I wish I could unread a book. Between the murder of children, rape, and animal sacrifices and just human misery, I could not wait for this book to be over. The book left me with no profound lesson or story for the price of the brutality in it's pages. Depressing and disturbing.
"disturbing yet beautiful"
good lord this book was devastating. written so lyrically, it was heart-wrenching and disturbing and really just jarring to the system.
the abuse portrayed in this book is incomprehensible. juxtaposed with the amazing writing the book ends up being both beautiful and shocking at the same time. the story falls under the realm of magical realism, southern gothic and historical fiction...and has the ability to draw the reader in and forces us to truly experience the tragedy these characters live through.
it's not a story for the faint of heart...but the style of writing and strength of the characters makes it an amazing read. it's a love story at it's core...but a love that is surrounded by absolute horror. and the love is not only between a man and a woman, but it's about self love as well. finding the strength inside to not only love yourself but open yourself up for love to be given to you.
i am usually not a fan of authors reading their own books, i find that they usually don't have the depth of acting ability to embody even their own words, but Cynthia Bond brings her background in acting (theater) to this performance and makes an amazing narrator.
surely this book will stay with me for a long time.
"At times I wanted to vomit however truth......."
The story is very compelling. Deep. Sickening. Yet so captivating and real. The part where Ephraim tells Ruby while crying if you had the courage to live through that I have the courage to listen is the most important message in the story. Listening is a true act of love it allows the person to be seen. I struggled at times not wanting to hear anymore and still needed to finish. Great powerfully book.
"Warning explicit child abuse"
I was far too distressed by the graphic descriptions of child rape to enjoy this book. Though well written and very well narrated I was just appalled by the content
"Heart-wrenching Haunting Beautifully Written Novel"
This story of Ruby, a woman then a small girl in Liberty, Texas grabs you by the heart. Now days after finishing the book, it still won't let go. Ms Bond delivers a book that is shocking, heartbreaking, cruel and kind. This book it is hard and soft. This story is not for everyone but it spoke to me. It is reminiscent of author Toni Morrison's work but more linear and some may think more accessible. I also commend Ms. Bond for her narration. Initially I was at odds with the narrator; I wanted the narrator to have an accent that sounded southern. But as the book progressed Ms. Bond's commitment to this story became part of the magic and it all came together perfectly.
"This book should come with a WARNING label"
Less, less less. Less child abuse, less child rape, less child manipulation, hate, sickness and depravity. LESS!
YES... assuming the subject matter was something other than child abuse and rape. The authors writing abilities are captivating and magical, she is highly skilled. Believe it or not, I think that her skill was the problem... It was TOO well described, too vivid, too real. Too much for me.
I have not, but I loved her voice and her performance reading of the book. Unfortunately I kept wishing it would be over soon through so much of the book, (due to content only) that it was hard to truly appreciate the performance.
The list would be too long... the detailed scenes of child abuse were just awful.
I bought this book after seeing a passionate introduction video from Oprah for her Book Club. As an avid Oprah fan, I REALLY wanted to love this book like she apparently does. Sadly, I cannot get past the graphic and horror of the subject matter to want to spend much time even discussing it. I still love Oprah and I really love the skill and potential of this author, I can tell she is special. Just cannot be doin' the chapters upon chapters of graphic, horrifying evil. Sorry :-(
Wow! I'm lost for words! This was great definitely worth the purchase! I see a movie coming for this one!
"Haunting yet vividly compelling empathy the human"
The tragic life of one of the many abused girls in the south. Yet it is a collective memory that it's sadly still be told. This happens today
to children everywhere on earth
"An interesting read"
Cynthia Bond is a horrible narrator. She should stick to ONLY writing. The story was a bit confusing, and this is something I will have to come back to. But the feel of the novel is akin to that of The Color Purple, Sugar, and Beloved: soulful and full of hurt. The story is VERY graphic, and it took me a while to finish because of its depressing nature, but I finally did. I hear this will be a trilogy, so I will be reading the next book to see if I can get a better understanding of what the heck I just read. But apparently Bond won't be starting the next book until she has finished the screenplay, backed by Oprah (of COURSE *eye roll*)
"Loved It. Hated It."
A tough story line done very well. I couldn't stop listening but I didn't want to hear any more.
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