This book was a very insightful account of a young woman who'd been "different" all her life. Made to feel unworthy and unwanted by her mother--especially when compared to her accomplished younger brother--Ruth embarks on life after high school at a dreary job in a dreary town. Her life is changed in many ways--not all positive-- when she meets, marries, and has a child with Ruby, an immature, impulsive boy in a man's guise. A tragic series of events changes Ruth's life forever and, it seems, puts her on a better path after all.
This was an wonderfully written book with a shocking ending. I suggest you reread the first few pages after you finish the book.
Our narrator tells a simple yet emotionally moving tale of a life filled with quiet desperation and infinite dreams. I was moved enough to write a review, which I never do. I recommend this to anyone who enjoys challenging their perception of what defines a normal family.
None are so blind as those who do not wish to see. Ruth, the unreliable narrator of this sad tale, lives this maxim throughout her life. "The book of Ruth" is an uncomfortable reminder of how we can be blind when we want something bad enough'even if that thing is an unwise choice. With success, Jane Hamilton places the reader in the mind of a disturbed young woman; somehow Hamilton creates sympathy for the undesirable characters in this novel. Definitely a triumph for the author's first book.
I worked in a group home for mentally retarded men while I attended college. There is (was) a very large mental institution in my hometown that had mainstreamed most of it's almost 15,000 residents (in it's hey day) back in to the community. There were multiple group homes for men and women and I often supervised parties and dates for the clients. This book brought all of this back to me. Ruth and Ruby are both fairly high functioning retarded people. This relationship got out of hand mainly from May's iron-fisted way of dealing with her daughter and her constant comparison of her with her genius son Matt. There were parts of their relationship that I thought were beautiful, but most of it was like the beauty of the vibrant patterns on a rattlesnake's back; beautiful but dangerous. This book brought all the sadness back to me that I felt watching people with little or no control of their life attempt to have a relationship.
This was certainly a worthwhile book to read and I would recommend it to anyone.