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Rubyfruit Jungle Mass Market Paperback – April 1, 1983

4.3 out of 5 stars 143 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

"I found myself laughing hysterically, then sobbing uncontrollably just moments later. A powerful story ... A truly incredible book."
-- The Boston Globe

"
Molly Bolt is a genuine descendant -- genuine female descendant -- of Huckleberry Finn. And Rita Mae Brown is, like Mark Twain, a serious writer who gets her messages across through laughter."
-- Donna E. Shalala, former Secretary of Health and Human Services

From the Publisher

Rubyfruit Jungle is the first milestone novel in the extraordinary career of one of this country's most distinctive writers. Bawdy and moving, the ultimate word-of-mouth bestseller, Rubyfruit Jungle is about growing up a lesbian in America--and living happily ever after. Born a bastard, Molly Bolt is adopted by a dirt-poor southern couple who want something better for their daughter. Molly plays doctor with the boys, beats up Leroy and loses her virginity to her girlfriend. Molly decides not to apologize for that. In no time she mesmerizes the head cheerleader of Ft. Lauderdale heiress. But the world is not tolerant. Booted out of college for moral turpitude, an unrepentant, penniless Molly takes New York by storm, sending not a few female hearts aflutter with her startling beauty, crackling wit and fierce determination to become the when first published, Rubyfruit Jungle has only grown in reputation as it has reached new generations of readers who respond to its feisty and inspiring heroine.
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Product Details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 246 pages
  • Publisher: Bantam (1973)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 055327886X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0553278866
  • Product Dimensions: 4.2 x 0.7 x 6.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (143 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #353,851 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Michael J. Mazza HALL OF FAME on July 1, 2002
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Rita Mae Brown's novel "Rubyfruit Jungle" had me laughing out loud by the time I reached page 5. The book tells the life story of Molly Bolt, a poor girl who comes from rural Pennsylvania. Molly narrates the book, which follows her to her adolescent years in Florida and to her life as a struggling film student in New York. Along the way, Molly lives her life as a sexually liberated young lesbian.
Molly is a wonderful character: a witty, intelligent combination of artist and trickster. The book is full of humor and satirical outrageousness. Molly is surrounded by a colorful cast of characters, most notably her strong-willed mother. The narrative as a whole is well-structured, and Brown brings Molly's story to a very satisfying conclusion.
As funny as "Rubyfruit" is, it also has some relevant insights on a number of issues: mother-daughter relationships, anti-gay prejudice, sexism in academia, socioeconomic barriers, etc. Molly's desire to be a filmmaker is a key theme: she is a creative individual who wants to tell relevant stories about "real people," and not just impress some pompous group of cultural elites.
Brown's prose style is excellent: muscular, sexy, lively, humane, down-to-earth, and always enjoyable. For a good companion text, try Audre Lorde's "Zami," a moving narrative of African-American lesbian life.
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I have been reading all of the customer reviews, and it seems that they have been missing the whole point of this book. By no means is this a "lesbian" book, or a book that completely focuses on dealing with "coming out". Nor should this book be read exclusively by lesbians. It's a book that simply follows a unique, strong young woman from when she was a kid to when she grows up into her 20's. Futhermore, the simple style is the essence of the book; more complicated wording would not embody the character of Molly nearly as well. The point is that Molly, who is sassy and a shamelessly cut-and-dry lesbian, does not think that things should be overanalyzed and obsessed over. She sees everything as obvious and blatant. Hence the simple language. It is an unapologetic, extremely funny book, and it is hard to put it down. It pulls you in from the beginning and continues to stay exciting throughout this girl's tumultuous life. In some ways she grows, but in others she never does compromise her gutsy, fiery self. I loved it.
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This is a well-written jewel. Rita Mae Brown's dialogue and plot is interesting from the very first page. The book tells the story of a lower-class girl growing up, her learning about sex and dealing with her own homosexuality, leaving home and starting a life of her own, college, city life, dating, etc. The reader identifies with Molly through all of her hardships and celebrates with her through her joyous relationships. This book deals with lesbianism in a very realistic manner, but at the same time could appeal to heterosexual women and men of all types. It is a coming of age story that is simplistic, yet incredibly ... can i say perfect. It's a very short book, and easy weekend read for pure enjoyment. I'd highly recommend this book - to anyone.
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I am struck by how many of the reviewers felt they had to categorize this book as 'lesbian fiction.' OK, it is written by a lesbian and its central character is a lesbian and most of the book deals with issues related to sexual orientation. But all books have to be about something, and whether one is a lesbian or not, this book deals with the same human issues that confront everyone in growing up and makeing a place in the world. The very things that some of the reveiwers criticise - the humor and lightness of touch on some serious issues - is exactly what makes this book accessable to the reading public at large and really saves it from being simply 'lesbian fiction'. It is a truely entertaining and (for those who need it) informative book. Lesbians may, indeed, have a predisposition to like it because the themes are more immediate and personal, but all readers can relate.
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I loved this book! I read this book when my sexual self was beginning to open up. I love how the main character views herself. She sees nothing wrong with who she is and the way she is. She is growing up and just happens to be a lesbian and it's NO BIG DEAL to her. She doesn't morph into a caricature of her lesbian self. I loved how she considered herself NORMAL and didn't try to create a separate lesbian world to live in.
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The first time I read Rubyfruit Jungle, I was about 12 and because my mother had signed the permission slip at the NY Public Library I was able to gain access to the Young Adult and Adult sections. This was the first book I'd ever read that had a main character who was a lesbian. The notion just blew my mind! Rita Mae Brown (the author) took me on a wild ride with her character Molly as she grows up the bastard (or rather adopted) daughter of a poor country family. One of the things I love most about Molly is how sure she is of herself. She's strong willed as a child--the struggles between her and her mother are really exciting and tense, willing and open to explore her sexuality as a teenager, and straightforward and no holds barred as a young woman, Molly only gets better as she gets older.

Reading this back in the early 90's was definitely an experience because back then lesbian literature was few and far between. Rubyfruit Jungle held so many secrets of what it was like to be female and gay. I can remember hiding this book for fear that my mother would find it and think I was a lesbian too. But sadly as an adult, the allure was gone. Maybe it's because I'm a jaded New Yorker where being gay isn't a stigma and Molly's experience has been sort of deflated by all the other writing that followed it.

For me, a book like this must be read when you really don't have a clear understanding of the world you live in. The reader has to be naive to put it plainly. As I think this book is meant to be an eye-opener for those who only know one side of the coin. Reading it as a young girl definitely had my heart pounding, made me blush and laugh out loud and want to share it with the world. Reading it as an adult was still an experience, and while it didn't move me as much, it did give make me reminisce about the young girl I was and how my innocence played such an important role in how I responded to literature. What I wouldn't give to be young again!
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