By Lynsey Eaton | Image via People
If Oprah tells me to do something, I generally just do it. No questions asked. There is a whole period of my life dedicated to Brita filter‘s and avoiding plastic water bottles thanks to Commander O.
So when she adds a book to her book club list claiming that “the language and descriptions [were] so vividly compelling that sometimes [she] would have to take a breath and repeat the sentences out loud,” the time between reading her review and my clicking “add to cart” is about as lengthy as an Olympic sprint by Usain Bolt.
I started Ruby about a month ago, making the decision to purchase the audio tape version because I had some trips coming up and anything I can do to keep occupied during take-off is welcomed. At first, due in large part to the author’s reading of the book, I felt like I had stepped into this generation’s Fried Green Tomato’s. I hadn’t.
Although the Southern storytelling is reminiscent of the Whistle Stop Cafe, Ruby has a darkness and deepness to it that is more akin to Toni Morrison.
The novel centers around the mental illness of the title character of Ruby, who was conceived when her mother was raped by a white man. Set in the 1960’s East Texas town of Liberty, where Ruby grew up, the sufferings of her life and those around her share center stage with the madness that was spawned from them. Themes of sexism, racism and, most importantly, the love that overcomes them, are beautifully intertwined by an author who knows all too well the lasting effects of each (read more on the novel and author Cynthia Bond here).
The novel is brutal at times, and certainly isn’t a feel good beach read. But it is one worth investing in, as its message is both compelling and important.
I don’t want to give too much away because the storytelling is the mastery of this novel. You really must read it for yourself. That said, I would recommend actually reading the book as opposed to opting for the taped version like I did. While the soul of the story was not lost, the author’s cadence took some of the bite from the prose. Bite that I can only imagine is all the more powerful when read as opposed to heard.