*This book was first published January 1st 2014*
Genres: Adult-Fiction/Historical/Literary-Fiction/African-American Culture
My Rating: 4 Stars
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 Bell, “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 center of the city–the darkened piano bars and hidden alleyways of the Village–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. Meanwhile, Ephram must choose between loyalty to the sister who raised him and the chance for a life with the woman he has loved since he was a boy.
My Thoughts: There are always those books that test your toughness- this is one of those books. It took me almost a month to get through it, simply because I couldn’t stand to read about all the wrong doings that occurred throughout Ruby’s life.
In the town of Liberty, Texas, evil lurks. Both in the form of, supposedly, dark magic and the human kind. As both, Ruby and Ephram, recall their childhood, you get a glimpse of what it was like during the times of segregation. Lynchings, among other evil deeds, were not uncommon in small towns where the white man was free to do what ever he chose. There are recalls of both sexual and physical abuse, rape, murder, neglect, and just downright hatred. I cried for Ruby and all the African-Americans who suffered through that time. As it sits, the only things that have really changed are the segregation and the ability to get away with killing someone because you dislike the color of their skin. Society is still as judgmental as ever, even with an African-American president sitting at the head of the table.
Ruby suffers mentally with how her life has turned out. She is on the verge of just losing it in this book. Ephram is the man who has loved her, her whole life without pause. He wants to save her from herself and the evil that is both physical and mental, before it destroys her. Sometimes, and I think that this book is no exception, there needs to be a line drawn with subject content. I know that there needs to be descriptions that give the reader a visual of the story’s narrative. However, this book was just too much to take. I hate reading about sexual abuse/rape of any kind, whether it’s a child or adult. I don’t like to read about periods in our history that supported lynchings and any other disgusting doings of the white man. Just no.
I do think that if this novel had not had all of these things, then it wouldn’t have been much of a read. I like this book, though, I will not read it again. I think that everyone needs to brave this story, just once. It’s beautifully written, but highly controversial because there are people who will (and have) debate it’s content. It deserves a place on the shelf of other great literary authors, that’s just my opinion. I do recommend reading this book, even with it’s heavy subject matter.