Sunday, April 8, 2012

The Book of Ruth by Jane Hamilton

The Book of Ruth by Jane Hamilton is the story of Ruth Dahl told by Ruth. She shares with us where she lived for most of her life in Honey Creek Illinois. She lives there with her mother May. The beginning of the story Ruth shares what May was like as a child and her growth to adulthood. May has two sisters Marion and Sidney who have both left Honey Creek to pursue their own interests which leaves just May in Honey Creek. She feels resentful to be left especially after her first husband dies in World War two. May  doles out both physical and verbal abuse on Ruth and Matt so much so even her second husband left. We never hear from him again leaving her with the two kids.

Ruth shares her feelings of her mother and her jealousy of her brother Matt. The one bright spot in Ruth's childhood is the letter writing between herself and aunt Sid (Sidney May's sister). Ruth writes all kinds of letters and expounds on things happening in her life. She is so jealous of Matt and his intelligence that she will go to all kinds of lengths to get his attention. She is very unpopular at school and has no friends other than Ms. Finch. She takes Ruth under wing and introduces her to audio books. 

Ruth graduates from high school and immediately goes to work with May at the Trim and Tidy Dry Cleaners. Ruth doesn't feel she has any other options. She befriends a girl who introduces her to her future husband Ruby. He is a source of joy for her in the beginning of the relationship. He also marries her and provides two children. Unfortunately with everything in Ruth's life unhappy consequences result. 

The end of the book leaves you wondering what Ruth will do with the rest of her life.  I thought this book was an easy read. I just did not enjoy the subject matter discussed in this book. I also tend to turn the other way when it comes to any of the Oprah book club selections.



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