‘Ruby’ by Cynthia Bond – a review

bookshot_3dRuby: a novel by Cynthia Bond has been chosen by Oprah Winfrey as her Book Club pick and she’s also acquired the film rights to it. Read our eBook version.

Published last year, the book is described as the “story of a man determined to protect the woman he loves from the town desperate to destroy her.”

Ephram Jennings has never forgotten the beautiful girl with the long braids running through the piney woods of Liberty, their small East Texas town. Young Ruby, ‘the kind of pretty it hurt to look at,’ has suffered beyond imagining, so as soon as she can, she flees suffocating Liberty for the bright pull of 1950s New York. Ruby quickly winds her way into the ripe centre of the city, all the while hoping for a glimpse of the red hair and green eyes of her mother. When a telegram from her cousin forces her to return home, thirty-year-old Ruby finds herself reliving the devastating violence of her girlhood. With the terrifying realization that she might not be strong enough to fight her way back out again, Ruby struggles to survive her memories of the town’s dark past

Oprah said “I’ve never READ a book like this before! It was so good I had to sit back and let it sink in. I put it down and waited until I was in bed with the flu to start reading it. I found the language and descriptions so vividly compelling that sometimes I would have to take a breath and repeat the sentences out loud. Nothing comes close to the experience of reading this book. When I found out that Cynthia Bond is 53 years old and hasn’t written a book before, I couldn’t fathom it. Ruby is a vivid, searing novel that penetrates straight through the page and into the reader’s heart.”

Bond was inspired by stories she heard while working with at-risk youth in Los Angeles, and by a family tragedy — her aunt was shot repeatedly by the sheriff and his deputies (rumoured to be members of the Ku Klux Klan) because she had been involved with a white man. Her body was dumped in a sack and thrown onto Bond’s grandfather’s porch.