I have no idea how to review Ruby by Cynthia Bond.
Ephram Jennings is the adult son of a deceased backwoods preacher and has been in love with Ruby for as long as he can remember. Ruby Bell has recently returned home to Liberty, Texas. She lived a horrific life being sexually trafficked and abused since childhood.
Upon returning from New York City, sharply dressed and epically groomed, Ruby begins a long descent into madness as her past begins to quite literally haunt her. Voodoo runs deep within Liberty, even permeating the faith of the Christians in town. Now living in filth and wandering the streets in tatters, Ruby is openly shamed and once again, used by the men in her hometown. Ephram begins his long, slow courtship of Ruby; the only man who treated this woman with respect, kindness and expecting nothing in return.
Ruby is the debut novel by Bond, a writing consultant and therapeutic writing teacher. This novel is many things: a love story, a survival story, a horrific story, maybe even a ghost story. Bond is a fantastic writer and brings the reader immediately in, lock stock and barrel. The scenes between Ephram and Ruby feel beautiful and full of hope and sharply contrast with the main characters backstories as well as the evil they face together as adults.
And this is where I find it difficult to properly review this book. As I read Ruby, I felt uncomfortable and even horrified at many scenes but the love story between Ruby and Ephram is redeeming and beautiful. The love story is what kept me reading. In some ways, Ruby reminds me of the Bible story of Gomer and Hosea; although Ephram does not court Ruby based on God’s direction.
Bond is a powerful and gifted writer, however I want to caution, this story is very raw and explicit. Some readers may not find the ending enough of a reward given the amount of darkness one must go through before arriving at the novel’s conclusion.
I received Ruby for free in exchange for a review. I was not required to write a positive review.