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Ruth 66 Paperback – December 21, 2013
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Now Charlie’s respectable Oma Ruth has careened back into his life in a shocking new incarnation: a freewheeling hippie in kaftan and beads, unafraid to swap barbed words with her appalled daughter, nor to insist that Charlie accompany her on her road trip. He’s dead-set against it—he’d just found his dream job at a record store—and is disgusted when his mother dumps him on her mother without hesitation.
So Charlie sets out with Ruth—and, as it turns out, with Opa Bill, whose urn rests on the dashboard. At first, Ruth’s bizarre behavior and Charlie’s resentment at being dragged along make for a very uncomfortable ride. She insists on traveling without modern technology, but when she relents and allows his iPod and a new stereo system, the thaw begins.
Although "Route 66" is the road they travel as they head west, this is no travelogue about nostalgic remnants of yesterday. This is a journey of discovery: of Charlie’s strength and capacity to love, of Ruth’s ability to be honest with herself, of her secrets and those of her late husband; and of the people who will teach them along the way.
There’s the comical Count Doobie, and Jonas the Swede, who appreciates Ruth’s beauty and makes her feel truly free. There’s also heartbroken Barry, who with his daughter Rosie barely keep afloat a strip joint in the middle of nowhere, Texas. And there’s even Charlie’s embittered sister Becky, who rediscovers compassion and her affection for her twin away from their mother’s toxic influence.
Above all, there’s Rosie, the beautiful young woman who pines for her missing mother and valiantly offers to become a stripper to help her father’s business. She sets Charlie’s heart and hormones on fire, turning him into a bumbling puppy before he learns to overcome his insecurities and grow into a hero of sorts. Their relationship becomes entangled in the revelation of Ruth’s secrets, but the resolution is both satisfying and a bit of a relief.
A word of caution to the straight-laced reader: Ruth has embraced the hippie lifestyle to its fullest, and so you’ll find pot-smoking, swearing, nudity, and sex, as Charlie and Rosie let loose their teenage hormones and Ruth re-engages her lost libido. But far more than that, there is love, forgiveness, and bravery on this journey, not to mention a lot of laughs, some wonderfully wacky moments, and at times exciting and literally explosive revelations.
For the most part, Ruth 66 is an enjoyable, offbeat road trip filled with an appropriate amount of quirkiness. Although the novel is a little on the long side for a YA novel, the action unfolds smoothly and consistently. On the downside, the novel sometimes resorts to crude moments of slapstick humor, which the reader (depending on his sense of humor) may or may not appreciate. In addition to this, the novel’s closing act contains elements that I felt I had seen many times before in Hollywood films, and pivots on a major misunderstanding that, I feel, could have been easily cleared up had certain characters not resorted to melodrama. On the whole, though, it’s a pretty solid novel, recommended for Ages 16-Up.
The use of music as a narrative/soundtrack to the story was a wonderful touch and while reading I was either humming the songs in my head or listening to them on spotify.
There is always something happening, keeping you interested and you just want to learn more about what is going on, what is the mystery and how it is play out for the characters. The book is well written and you feel great empathy with the characters, going through the highs and the lows with them.
I would full recommend this book if you are looking for a read that will make you laugh or at least make you smile,