“Ruby” – Book review

I appreciate the premise of this novel: If someone has had to bear abuse, the least we can do is listen.

Author Cynthia Bond has one of the main characters, Ephram, state it out here in Ruby:

He whispered into her ear, “I ain’t going nowhere. If you brave enough to live it, the least I can do is listen.” Ruby fought against the rise of hope. She lost when he said: “Girl, you a miracle of nature.”

The setting is a small Texas town, full of prejudice on all sides. When an original resident, Ruby Bell, returns there after a few years in New York City, her mental illness isn’t met with compassion. As the story unfolds, you start to understand why each character reacts as they do to her.


So I listened. The abuse was horrible. Even though it was a work of fiction, I know these things happen in real life and it is devastating.

But before the halfway mark, I decided to stop. Close this book. I couldn’t take anymore. I didn’t understand the Louisiana voodoo parts. I didn’t like the raunchy telling of sex scenes.

And honestly, I didn’t like hearing so much pain in a novel I was reading for pleasure.

I clicked off the page I was on and was about to delete the whole book from my Kindle. Then I remembered it was a review book that I had committed to read. So I trudged on.

Did it get better? Well, the writing was beautiful. Cynthia Bond can weave magic with her words. Such beauty there. She also was excellent at moving between past and present in unfolding her characters. And she showed me things I didn’t know before. I don’t think we should turn away from pain just because it’s uncomfortable; I did learn things here.

But her words were often just too explicit for me, the plot too burdensome, the spirits too strange.

So did I like this book? Not really.
Would I recommend it to others? Afraid not.
Were there redeeming things in this book anyway? Definitely. Just not enough for me.

* * *

My thanks to Blogging for Books for the review copy of Ruby

8 thoughts on ““Ruby” – Book review

  1. Linda@Creekside

    Now THAT’S an honest review, Lisa. And I appreciate your courage in writing.

    Sometimes we’ve just got to close the cover and walk away. Those words aren’t for us. Or get up and walk out of a theater because PG-13 morphed into XXX.

    I’ve just gotta protect my mind and heart.

    May this weekend offer you sweet rest, friend …

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      Yeah, I really don’t like giving a negative review, but we’re supposed to be honest in our reviews, so it is what it is. I just didn’t expect that with this one. Hope you have a nice weekend yourself, Linda.

  2. Saleslady371

    How honest. I use to review fiction novels for one of my favorite authors and I was honest in the last review pointing out the great things and what I didn’t like and was never given an opportunity to review for her again. I wonder what you will say in your review?

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      Ouch. Oh well. The publishers that send the books always advise to say what we really think. I saw an interview with this author and I really liked her. And I like her writing. This particular book just isn’t for me. Too bad your author cut off your opportunities to review her book. I’m sure it’s never easy for them to hear negative things about their writings.

  3. Ceil

    Hi Lisa! I think it’s great that you can honestly say you don’t recommend this book. Too many times, readers think that there’s something wrong with them? Of course this must be a good book, “maybe I just don’t get it.” Well, I’m happy that there are reviewers out there who stay true to their feelings.

    Thank you for being candid. I’m sorry it was such a trial to read it…

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      Thanks, Ceil. It does bother me to be critical of someone else’s work. 🙁 But I think the author is having success with it in general, so maybe my one opinion won’t matter. ha.

  4. Barbara H.

    I appreciate honest reviews as well. I can’t even listen to the news much any more with all the stuff going on in the world. I don’t believe in burying my head in the sand, but all the evil and pain in the world is just so overwhelming. All I know to do is give it to God and try to shine His light in my realm of influence.

    Somewhere else this week, I can’t remember where, I read something about the ministry of listening that resonated with me. I’m always convicted when someone talks about someone listening to them like they were the most important thing in the world at that moment. I’m afraid that doesn’t come naturally to me, but I try to seek the Lord’s help to do so. I tried to remember too, with the kids, that in order to encourage them to talk about the bigger issues, I needed to listen to the seemingly unimportant ones as well.

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      I agree with you, Barbara–all the media’s shouting of bad news, bad news, can be overwhelming. I like to stay on top of current events too, but I’m thankful we don’t have to listen to everything and can choose at least how the message comes (sometimes anyway).

      I love your point that we need to listen to the small things if we want to have opportunity to hear the big things. Good advice!

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