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Saving Ruth: A Novel Paperback – May 1, 2012

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Editorial Reviews

From the Back Cover

When Ruth returns home to the South for the summer after her freshman year at college, a near tragedy pushes her to uncover family truths and take a good look at the woman she wants to become.

Growing up in Alabama, all Ruth Wasserman wanted was to be a blond Baptist cheerleader. But as a curly-haired Jew with a rampant sweet tooth and a smart mouth, this was an impossible dream. Not helping the situation was her older brother, David—a soccer star whose good looks, smarts, and popularity reigned at school and at home. College provided an escape route and Ruth took it.

Now home for the summer, she's back lifeguarding and coaching alongside David, and although the job is the same, nothing else is. She's a prisoner of her low self-esteem and unhealthy relationship with food, David is closed off and distant in a way he's never been before, and their parents are struggling with the reality of an empty nest. When a near drowning happens on their watch, a storm of repercussions forces Ruth and David to confront long-ignored truths about their town, their family, and themselves.

About the Author

Zoe Fishman is the author of Balancing Acts and Saving Ruth. She lives in Atlanta, Georgia, with her husband and son.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks; Original edition (May 1, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 006205984X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0062059840
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 0.7 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,645,920 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Zoe Fishman is the author of Driving Lessons (Morrow, April '14), Saving Ruth (Morrow, May '12) and Balancing Acts (Harper, March '10).

She lives in Atlanta, GA with her husband and son.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Tiffany A. Harkleroad VINE VOICE on May 30, 2012
Format: Paperback
Ruth is home for the summer after her first year of college, and she thinks everyone seems fixated on her weight. Sure, she has lost that teenage body fat, but she is hardly thin, at least not in her own mind. In reality, Ruth is skin and bones. It causes her family to be distant, particularly her brother David. She and David work at the local pool as lifeguards, and when a child nearly drowns on their watch, both of them have their eyes opened to the truth about the world in which they live, and the struggles they both are having.

This book was completely captivating. I thought the character development was superb. I really related to Ruth, despite the fact that she is a Jewish girl living in the South, and I am a Catholic girl living in the East. Ruth's struggles with weight, body image, and low self esteem are so common among young girls that I think a lot of readers will see something of themselves in Ruth. It was interesting to see the situation primarily through her eyes, then having it juxtaposed against the observations of others; this really gave the reader a good idea of how skewed her perceptions of her body are. I was shocked to learn what David's secret was; I honestly thought it was going to be something completely different, and I still feel like maybe his story was not completely told.

There are a lot of themes going on in this book. At it's heart, it is a coming of age story, but there is a strong theme of wanting to belong, or fit in. Ruth and David are Jews living in the South, not completely fitting in. Racial tensions at the local pool are high, with the whites feeling that black children do not fit in. Ruth and David both, as individuals, feel they do not fit in to the roles placed upon them.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Stephanie VINE VOICE on May 2, 2012
Format: Paperback
I read Saving Ruth in two sittings, which I RARELY do. It is so well-written, so fluid. You know how some books, there are parts that are thrown in that are unrealistic but you buy into it for the sake of the book? None of that is in Saving Ruth. It's just a great story, so believable, so relatable, with wonderfully flawed people. I wanted to be there, spending time with Ruth during that hot summer in Alabama with her best friends, her smothering parents, and the hot guy Chris who was suddenly interested in her. Heck I wanted to be her, experiencing her summer, and having those feelings all over again.

Ruth comes home from her freshman year in college having lost 35 pounds and feeling like a new person. Her brother, David is back too, but he's sullen and moody. Ruth is experiencing attention like she's never had before, and everyone is calling her skinny, a word she's never heard before. Her crush, Chris, is taking notice, David's closest friend. David and Ruth have always been lifeguards and coaches at the neighborhood pool. Now there are secrets David's keeping, their parents are dealing with the return of their two children from college, and Ruth is struggling with her eating problems (the problem being that she's not eating).

A near-drowning at the pool occurs and the events that transpire afterward put the whole story into motion - Saving Ruth deals with issues of eating disorders, depression, racial indifferences, marriage problems, sibling rivalry, and family relationships.

I loved this story so much because it reminded me of being that age again, of having feelings of being free, but still being under the eye of your parents, and of finally having attention from boys and of trying desperately to feel like a woman in my own skin. Zoe Fishman took me right back to my 19-year-old self and it felt wonderful to be there, to revisit those feelings, no matter how tumultuous those feelings were at the time.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By bookreader "Melanie" on May 11, 2012
Format: Paperback
I would describe this as a coming of age story. The book primarily revolves around nineteen year old Ruth and her slightly older brother, David.

The story takes place one hot summer in Alabama, while both siblings are home on college break. They spend their time life-guarding and coaching at the local summer pool. Ruth, insecure and suffering from low self esteem, finds herself finally acknowledged and popular after a drastic weight loss. David, meanwhile, has always been the popular, smart, soccer star who earned a full scholarship to attend school. However, David returns home that summer, moody and quiet, with some secret he seems to be unable to talk about. Adding to the mix is the fact that they are one of the very few Jewish families in a very southern, Baptist community.

One day, while at the pool, a young, black girl nearly drowns on David and Ruth's watch. Ruth and David finally must confront hidden racism in their town, issues with their family and acknowledging flaws within themselves before the summer ends.

I enjoyed this book and at approximately 279 pages, it is a pretty quick read. I loved the mix of family dynamics, religion and location. It did focus a lot of Ruth's anorexia. Also, at some points,I found myself reading really quickly through some of the dialogue between Ruth and her friends due to it going on and on with her weight...however, I would say this book was very realistic and takes a good look at some important issues. There is not a lot of action and drama as I originally thought, it focuses more on Ruth moving towards becoming the adult she wants to be. I think adults and older teens would enjoy this book and would have no issues recommending it to others.
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