Sunday, April 5, 2015

Reviewed // Ruby

It's so easy to lose yourself to motherhood, to stop doing the things that you love and that make you feel the most like yourself. Reading is one of those things for me; it makes me feel smarter and more interesting. It binds me to the person that I want to be. 

When I first started to identify as a reader, I usually walked straight into our small local library and went to the Oprah Book Club shelf. I was fourteen and reading her recommendations made me feel mature and wise.

Ruby, written by Cynthia Bond, feels a lot like so many of those Oprah book club books of yore. The language is imaginative and beautiful, and the story is crushingly sad. It is all too easy to liken writing to Toni Morrison. It is, after all, a story about being black, a story about being a woman, a story about being poor, stories Ms. Morrison does not shy away from. Also, like Morrison, the story is interwoven with the supernatural, forcing you to suspend your disbelief.  

Mostly I read the novel at night while nursing my new born baby, but there where times when the story became so incredibly painful to read that I had to put it down. As I said, motherhood will change you. It will make it so much harder to read about the horrible things that men will do to little girls, so hard in fact, that you might fear that your own sadness will leak into your mother's milk and flow directly into your beautiful baby daughter who you want to protect from such terrible realities. 

It's a beautiful novel, but also heart wrenching. It was the hope that things would change for Ruby, that happiness would be found that kept me reading past passages I almost couldn't bear. There were sections of the novel that retold stories so vile that it made me feel guilty just for having read them. Truthfully, I found myself angry with Bond; how could she write characters so utterly despicable? As these characters came to life on the page, I wanted so far away from them that I considered not finishing the book. However, I had to keep going because I refused to be yet another person who abandoned the beautiful Ruby Bell. 

I received this book from Blogging For Books for this review. 


  1. Love the way you put this. I too have had that experience while nursing and reading, or watching Game of Thrones when she was still tiny enough to nurse to sleep on the couch that carelessly, or crying while nursing. I also remember feeling it while pregnant and reading a violent piece of news or a shocking story, the kind that enters your consciousness in a vivid way. We put our arms around that little life and want to protect, protect, protect. But all the while they are growing too. In the smallest of ways, deep in their blood and bones, maybe we enrich their deeper instincts to understand?

  2. It's funny that you mention Game of Thrones because that one caused me pause while I was nursing Arlo. The struggle between the need to protect and the need to expose just gets harder and harder too.