Friday, August 28, 2009
The Book of Ruth
The Book of Ruth by Jane Hamilton
1989 Pen Hemingway Foundation Award
Ruth lives in a rural area in Illinois. They're a poor family. Dad Elmer left when Ruth was a child. He took off to Texas. Mom lost her first husband in WWII. She's been bitter and disappointed since. Brother Matt is a mathematical genius. He doesn't want to belong in the family.
And Ruth is a very submissive person. She was the butt of the jokes in school and has grown up not to expect much. She marries the first guy she can, Reuben. Reuben, or Ruby as he's known, was the son of a military man. Ruby couldn't ever please his father but his mother adored him. He grows up to be a drinker and drugger. He doesn't want to work. So Ruth and Ruby live with her mother after their married.And Ruth gets caught between bitter Mom and slacker Ruby.
I enjoyed this book. But it's very depressing. Hamilton makes occasional hints about bad things to come but it's not told until late in the story. And even then you get the feeling Ruth is on another path she's not equipped to deal with.