Author: Cynthia Bond
Read: April 8, 2015 – April 16, 2015.
“Hell ain’t nothing strange when Colored go crazy. Strange is when we don’t.”
The debut novel by Cynthia Bond takes place in Liberty, Texas. It’s the story of Ruby Bell and Ephram Jennings, who has been in love with Ruby since they were children, and has never forgotten the girl with long braids running though the piney woods. “Ruby was the kind of pretty it hurt to look at, like candy on a sore tooth.” The book starts when Ruby returns to Liberty after having lived a few years in New York. Ruby has long been considered the town whore used by the town’s men and ignored and shunned by the town’s women. Kind-hearted Ephram never left liberty and lived all his life with his pious and controlling sister Celia. The book switches back and forth between when they were children and the haunting memories of that time, and the present and the chance of reacquainting with each other.
I have very mixed feelings about this novel, and I had a real hard time finishing this book. I’m writing a review because there were aspects of this book that I liked very much. Cynthia’s prose is poetic and lyrical. Her vernacular is vivid, bringing her characters to life.
“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…”
“…For the next weeks Ruby walked through the Big Thicket, becoming. The loose black clusters of muscadine grapes on the vine. The egg-shaped seeded maypop fruit. Pecan trees, horsemint, stones and mud puddles.”
But unfortunately, there were also many aspects I didn’t care about this book. The excessive accounts of violence, rape, pedophilia and sexual abuse against children (boys and girls) were very difficult and disturbing to read. I would not recommend this book to the more sensitive readers.
Ruby is a story about love, redemption, social issues and racism at its worst form.