Bond, Cynthia. Ruby. London: Hogarth, 2015.
Reason read: this is an Early Review book from LibraryThing. Note: I was supposed to receive this back in January(?) I think. It actually came (overly packaged) in the mail on May 16th. I don’t know how I feel about reviewing a book that has first, already been published, then has been reviewed hundreds of times and also been selected for the “Oprah Book Club 2.0”. Seems a little been-there, done-that. But anyway…
Here’s what others are saying about Ruby: powerful, bittersweet, evil, angry, difficult, confusing, heavy. They also say the language is gorgeous. I would agree but I think it’s too much so. I found Bond’s writing style to be too lyrical, too lush. People speak in unnatural ways. Who says “she too stiff a tree”? It’s that otherwise beautiful perfume that someone wears a little too liberally; took a bath in it, as they say. I got a little weary of trees spying on people and clouds muttering.
Ruby, told from the perspective of several different characters (the crow was my favorite), is a violent and tragic story. How to otherwise describe Ruby? Everyone seems to be a little off kilter. There is black magic in the air. Celia has been taking care of her adult brother for so long they both have forgotten their proper familial hierarchy. He calls her mama. Ruby has been abused since she was five (warning: those abuses are spelled out in detail); everyone in town seems to be out for blood because everyone has a story.
Since this is already out and about I feel okay quoting from it. Here is a line that shouldn’t be missed, “Hope was a dangerous thing, something best squashed before it became contagious” (p 132). Made me think of Emily Dickinson’s “hope perches in the soul…”
Author fact: Ruby is Cynthia Bond’s first novel. She has spent time teaching writing to homeless and at-risk youth. That is beyond cool.
Book trivia: Ruby was selected by Oprah’s 2.0 Book Club (Oprah.com/bookclub). But, I said that already.