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Ruby: A Novel (Oprahs Book Club 2.0) Hardcover – Deckle Edge, April 29, 2014
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Four girls on a trip to Paris suddenly find themselves in a high-stakes game of Truth or Dare that spirals out of control. Learn More
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“Channeling the lyrical phantasmagoria of early Toni Morrison and the sexual and racial brutality of the 20th century east Texas, Cynthia Bond has created a moving and indelible portrait of a fallen woman... Bond traffics in extremely difficult subjects with a grace and bigheartedness that makes for an accomplished, enthralling read.” —Thomas Chatterton Williams, San Francisco Chronicle
“A beautifully wrought ghost story, a love story, a survival story...[A] wonderful debut.” —Angela Flournoy, Los Angeles Review of Books
“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
“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
“Ruby is a harrowing, hallucinatory novel, a love story and a ghost story about one woman’s attempt to escape the legacy of violence in a small southern town. Cynthia Bond writes with a dazzling poetry that’s part William Faulkner, part Toni Morrison, yet entirely her own. Ruby is encircled by shadows, but incandescent with light.”
—Anthony Marra, author of A Constellation of Vital Phenomena
“From the first sentence, Cynthia Bond’s unforgettable debut novel, Ruby, took hold of me and it hasn’t let go. Cynthia Bond has written a book everyone should read, about the power of love to overcome even the darkest of histories.”
—Amy Greene, author of Bloodroot
“Bond proves to be a powerful literary force, a writer whose unflinching yet lyrical prose is reminiscent of Toni Morrison’s.” —O, The Oprah Magazine
“In Ruby, Bond has created a heroine worthy of the great female protagonists of Toni Morrison…and Zora Neale Hurston… Bond’s style of writing is as magical as an East Texas sunrise.” —Dallas Morning News
“Evocative, affective and accomplished… Bond tells the story of Ruby and Ephram’s lives and their relationship with unflinching honesty and a surreal, haunting quality.” —Texas Observer
“Gorgeous… Bond is a gifted writer, powerful and nimble… [I]t’s tempting to call up Toni Morrison or Alice Walker or Ntozake Shange. It should be done more as compliment than comparison, though…Bond’s is a robustly original voice.”—Barnes and Noble Review
“Oprah recommended this book to me, and it is astounding. [Cynthia Bond] has such a majestic command of language; she catapults everyday words into rare air with lines that sear into your memory. The characters Ruby and Ephraim shimmer with vibrancy — they show the complications of pain and joy, all messily and beautifully together. A total triumph.” Ava DuVernay, director of Selma
“If you love well-written historical fiction and multifaceted grown-up characters, put Ruby at the top of your beach bag... Bond delivers multiple goods with this one.” —Essence
“Cynthia Bond creates a vibrant chorus of voices united by a common struggle… [T]he prose’s lyricism and Ruby’s interaction with the dead call to mind Beloved… While Bond’s characters may sense the inevitability of loss and loneliness, they are also driven by something else, a timid hopefulness that they may find serenity and compassion amid the ghosts who haunt them.” —The Rumpus
“Exquisite, juxtaposing horrific imagery with dreamy evocative lyricism.”
“Literary magic.” —St. Louis American
“Ruby explores the redeeming power of love in the face of horrific trauma… If the truth shall set us free, Ms. Bond shows us, in her story of grace, that love is truth.” —Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
“[A] dark and redemptive beauty... Bond’s prose is evocative of Alice Walker and Toni Morrison, paying homage to the greats of Southern gothic literature.”
—Library Journal (starred)
“[A] powerful, explosive novel. Bond immerses readers in a fully realized world, one scarred by virulent racism and perverted rituals but also redeemed by love.”
“An unusual, rare and beautiful novel that is meant to be experienced as much as read.” —Shelf Awareness (starred)
“A stunning debut. Ruby is unforgettable.” —John Rechy, author of City of Night
“Cloaked in authenticity, Ruby is unlike anything else out there right now.”
—Windy City Times
“Impeccably crafted… Ruby is undoubtedly the early work of a master storyteller whose literary lyricism is nothing short of pitch perfect.” —BookPage
“Bracing....Undeniable....The echoes of Alice Walker and Toni Morrison are clear....A very strong first novel that blends tough realism with the appealing strangeness of a fever dream.” —Kirkus
Top Customer Reviews
This story is about Ruby, a mulatto woman who grew up in Liberty, Texas. She was abandoned by her mother and given to a white woman to clean house. She was treated brutally from childhood and her history of abuse colors her future and poisons her life. Ruby has spent most of her life in Liberty except for some years in the 1960's when she went to New York City. There she mingled with the literati and rich people but also sold her body to the highest bidder.
Ephram is the man who has loved Ruby since she was a girl. He is a bagger at the Liberty supermarket and has been raised by his sister, Celia. Ephram's father was murdered by lynching, and his mother has been a patient in Rusk Mental Hospital since she attended a picnic stark naked. Both Celia and Ruby compete for Ephram's heart and Ephram hopes he can save Ruby from herself and life.
The novel is infused with a lot of voodoo and gris-gris which are metaphorical for much of the pain and despair that the characters feel. However, I feel like there is too much of it as it obscures the story at times.
The language in the novel is lovely. "She felt a thousand lavender flowers erupting from the edges of her fingers. She felt them playing a delicious melody that scented the wind and called striped bees and hummingbirds." The magical realism evokes similarities to Alice Hoffman and Isabel Allende.
The book goes back and forth in time. The reader sees Ruby's life in the present when she lives in her own filth and is obviously very mentally ill. We also see her in New York during the time that Martin Luther King's march on Washington was held.Read more ›
Long considered the town whore, Ruby is used by the town’s men and shunned by the town’s women. No one other than Miss P, the owner of the P&K Market, shows her any mercy or kindness. She always gives Ruby food to eat, and for 11 years Ephram has watched: “Every day he wanted nothing more than to put each tired sole in his wide wooden tub, brush them both in warm soapy water, cream them with sweet oil, and lanoline and then lip her feet, one by one into a pair of red-heel socks.” Ephram sees Ruby not as the crazy town whore, but as his soul mate, and the day he asks Celia to bake him the cake for her is the day he decides to leave his predictable life behind and help Ruby start to heal from a life filled with horrific mental and physical abuse.
The ghosts from Ruby’s past are many, starting with the mother whose abandonment of her as a child leads Ruby to being sold into a life of prostitution, working at a brothel run by Ms.Read more ›
Although the term â€œlyrical proseâ€ may be overused in describing works of literature, in this case, it is spot on in describing the authorâ€™s style. Filled with symbolism, I was reminded (a little) of Toni Morrisonâ€™s work. For example, anyone familiar with Beloved will note the numerical and superstitious significance of Setheâ€™s home Cincinnati address was 124 Bluestone Road (the sum of the house address equals 7, a number representing completion and blue stones were revered by slaves and represented safety and good luck). In Ruby, the Jennings home address was 8 Abraham Road. The number eight has been associated with themes of self-destruction; eight on its side is the symbol of infinity which is often linked to reincarnation. Abraham, leader and father, was willing to sacrifice his son at the request of his god and sure enough, there was a parallel of sorts with Ephram and his father, Reverend Jennings, but not for the reasons shared by the Biblical character.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This book has moved itself around a lot on my "to be read" list. Sometimes it bumped itself up to the top, and there was a period of time where it wasn't on my list at all! Read morePublished 3 days ago by D. Sorel
this just wasn't for me - child rape is bad enough in real life - I find it so stomache turning that I can't handle it in my reading for enjoyment.Published 7 days ago by E. B. MULLIGAN
This book is filled with detailed descriptions of child rapes and torture. It is horrific.
This is the only review I have ever written, and I do so to warn others not to... Read more
The ending was very anticlimactic. I would've rated higher but the ending was just wholly disappointing.Published 10 days ago by sabrina darling
It's obvious from page one that Cynthia Bond is an incredible wordsmith. There are passages in this novel that are incredibly beautiful and if you go into this book just with the... Read morePublished 14 days ago by J.Prather
Haunting and strange book but very good. Reminded me of early and good Stephen King characters. Loved the religious references.Published 16 days ago by Patricia Brandon-garst