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Ruby (Oprah's Book Club 2.0)

Ruby (Oprah's Book Club 2.0) - Cynthia Bond Ruby was a book that I started on blind faith in an author's tweeted recommendation. I had no mental preparation for the what I was to experience. On several occasions I considered not finishing. I did not have fun reading Ruby. I am left wondering how reading a book like this has meaning.

I had a hard time following and understanding everything in Ruby. It jumps back and forth in time from different character perspectives. There is an element of magical realism with voodoo, and something called a Dybo├╣ that invades people's spirits, and that shit always mixes me up. It really took most of the book for me to get a bead on how things were connected and the overall story arc. There is also a good deal of symbolism used throughout, and I'm smart enough to recognize it as such, but not quite smart (or poetic) enough to interpret the meaning.

Ruby (the book) is filled with bad people doing bad things, evil things. Even worse, all the shame and blame for their bad deeds gets dumped squarely on the victims. This book takes victim blaming to an unimaginable level. Which makes me feel guilty. And bad. Because there were scenes that were so horrible, I hoped they might not have been real, just something dreamed up by Ruby and her PTSD rattled mind. But no, it really happened to Ruby. And unlike semi-realistic horror stories that you can read for a good scare (think Rosemary's Baby), you can't walk away knowing it was dreamed up just to scare you. Because this shit came from somewhere. There are a few moments of relief, of hope, of tenderness. But most of the time, there is no mercy from the author.

Speaking of the author, this is a debut novel and I was impressed. It was not just an author spewing shock and horror, but rather, the the author artfully placing you in inside the head of Ruby and you experience everything as she does. According to the author, Ruby initially was 900+ pages, and since has been broken down into 3 books. Since the story line was written in a very non-linear fashion, I wonder if subsequent books will bounce around fill some gaps.

As for recommending Ruby, the prudent thing to do would be to recommend it with trigger warnings. But I don't want to do that. I want everyone to read it, to be beat up by it, just like I was. In reading this book, am I taking a blow for Ruby and all victims of abuse, sexual assault and human trafficking?

I have tortured by having to rate this book. I have seriously considered keeping it unrated. Instead, I will let my unemotional analytical side take over and break it down. Here goes:

5 stars for post read PTSD
5 stars for incredible writing chops
3.5 stars for plot
4 stars for character
1 star for enjoyment
Average, 3.7 rounded up.