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Rubyfruit Jungle

3.86  ·  Rating Details  ·  21,390 Ratings  ·  655 Reviews
Bawdy and moving, the ultimate word-of-mouth bestseller, Rubyfruit Jungle is about growing up a lesbian in America--and living happily ever after. "A truly incredible book".--The Boston Globe.
Paperback, 246 pages
Published 1980 by Bantam Books (first published 1973)
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Tipping the Velvet by Sarah WatersFingersmith by Sarah WatersAnnie on My Mind by Nancy GardenKeeping You a Secret by Julie Anne PetersFried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe by Fannie Flagg
Best Lesbian Fiction
7th out of 1,283 books — 1,553 voters
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8th out of 629 books — 737 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Donna Davis
Oct 17, 2015 Donna Davis rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: see above review.
Recommended to Donna by: my sister
I read this book the year it was published. I was a young woman of 21, and it was during a time when it was still considered shocking, by most of mainstream straight America,to be gay. My sister had recently come out to me, and my head was spinning. We were very close, and she was much older. Her "room mate" of many years was not just a room mate any more. I wasn't sure what to think or feel. In short, I was confused as hell.

This book was a good antidote. Hilariously written, human, sexual, occa
Jan 03, 2008 Tatiana rated it did not like it
Recommended to Tatiana by: jess
Shelves: lez
i swear i already wrote a review of this book but maybe not.

okay, so you're young, you've suddenly realized you're a lesbian. one out of every two people you talk to in the next year are going to recommend rubyfruit jungle. it is THE coming out book. i wonder if gay men have an equivalent. anyway. personally, i think this book is overhyped. let's remember that this is the same lady who writes murder mysteries with her CAT. that's right, not about her cat, but with her cat. co-authored. i mean,
Dec 29, 2011 Sophie rated it really liked it
I read this book by accident. Literally and metaphorically, as was trapped in a foreign hospital without anything to read. After pleading with anyone who'd listen (in bad German), one of the nurses said she had one English book at home and this is what she brought me.

By the look of the 70s cover and dreadful blurb making it out to be some sort of erotic lesbo fiction, it didn't look like the sort of book I'd choose for company over Christmas. It just shows you shouldn't judge a book by its cover
Jan 26, 2016 Nathan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I read this for my LGBTQIA literature, culture and criticism class, and from it grew a bit of a debate about its artistic merit.

There's definitely quite the case against Rubyfruit Jungle. It hasn't aged particularly well. There's a scene where Molly actually says that "sex with women is dynamite." and many other moments where outdated slang rears its head. Then Brown spends the whole novel plopping one poop joke after another on the reader. The only moments where Brown waxes poetic are when she
Jan 26, 2009 Lualncol rated it really liked it
Tatiana is not being fair. RMB wrote this book reasonably early in her career, 30 years ago. The humor of the time was different, the references were different, shock value was different, risque was different. At the time it was shockingly welcome. It is still today a very joyful, affirming book for gay, straight, adopted, natural, or just unique.
RMB is older and mellower now (see cat mysteries!) but this is an important, albeit fictionalized, documentation of her thoughts and development at a
Sabrina Chapadjiev
Sep 21, 2009 Sabrina Chapadjiev rated it it was ok
Seeing as I've been dating women for awhile, I figured I'd finally read this classic of lesbo lit. My review in one word, "eh. . ."

I mean, Brown's got a great handle on a fierce character, and there are streaks of beauty in this jammed story, but the main problem it has more ego than Ayn Rand (whom I love, btw). Rae's main character, Molly, is strong willed, defiant, and brutally brilliant against her slow as molasses thinkin' counterparts and family members. I'm one for a hard headed, knows wh
Jun 23, 2011 Hilary rated it really liked it
Definitely an interesting historical look at some concepts (lesbianism, feminine gender roles in society). I did think it was a little heavy-handed and presumptuous at times (the fact that every woman the protagonist is interested in wants to sleep with her as well, the idea that anyone who can throw off the shackles of societal standards would prefer to be a lesbian because the sex is objectively better, etc.) Also her talent for her chosen career is portrayed in very tell-don't-show manner (my ...more
Mauoijenn ~ *Mouthy Jenn* ~
The first few chapters I was laughing so much I was for sure I would be giving this book a high rating. It was a good book that I had not heard of before, thanks library book club. Molly Bolt is an steadfast character and while she just might be Brown living out her younger years, it wasn't the greatest, but still an enjoyable read.
Jennifer Peas
Jun 10, 2008 Jennifer Peas rated it really liked it
I've read this book about 8 times in the last 18 years. In it, she mentions bagels & lox. I only JUST, at age 31, figured out what LOX was, though... Thankfully I understood everything else in the book, so we're good. I was just late on the lox stuff.
I can't say it's exactly to my tastes, but I quickly found it impossible not to give in to Molly Bolt's unflagging exuberance as she strides through her whirlwind life with gusto and verve, inevitably encountering a lot of people along the way. Many of these characters quickly become hung up on who Molly is, where she came from, what she stands for, and, more often than not, are bewildered by the very potent sexual effect she has on them. Molly, ever disappointed but nonplussed by the reactionar ...more
May 04, 2007 Genna rated it did not like it
Recommends it for: students of GLBT history
One of the few books regarded as a "classic" of lesbian literature, Ruby Fruit Jungle bothered me. What begins as a not-too-bad lesbian coming of age story evolves into an anti-heterosexual, anti-motherhood manefesto. The plot and the writing suffer as a result, and my own disagreement with the message prevents me from enjoying the book.

I was able to find solace in regarding the book as something of a historical relac - a museum piece of sorts that illustrates well a particular philosophical er
May 14, 2007 sydney rated it liked it
Recommends it for: lesbians, women's historians, horndogs
This is a coming-of-age novel about Molly, a tough, smart, adopted lesbian (her mom tells her she's a "bastard") who also happens to have sex with a bunch of dudes (she thinks it's boring) throughout her life. She grows up in Pennsylvania and moves to Florida, then hitchhikes to New York City.

The writing is, at times, too simplistic, and the dialogue forced, but Molly is a funny and likable character. Brown portrays heterosexuals as perpetually unhappy, dishonest with themselves, and (usually)
Jun 10, 2011 Meen rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Meen by: I guess it's one of those lesbian standards?
6/10/11: It was fun. I liked Molly Bolt before she came to NYC a lot more than I did after. And I saw someone else's review mention that the book was pretty butch-phobic, and that's true. So it was fun, especially before she got to NYC, but mostly just OK.

Something that was interesting about it for me--(I can't help reading as an informal sociologist, it seems.)--was the trenchant gender critique, and the realization that not so long ago the woman as class president, as film director, as uninter
4.5 stars.
I loved it. LOVED it. This was so close to a five star read for me. Half a star off for one scene in particular towards the end, which I'll put in spoilers for those who want to read it. Other than that unfortunate scene, I really loved how this whole book was handled. It tackles race, sexuality, poverty, and sexism. Molly is a fierce narrator who doesn't let anyone tell her what she can or cannot do as a woman. I just loved all of it.

(view spoiler)
Oct 24, 2012 Lynn rated it liked it
I must have started this book years ago because the first couple of chapters were very familiar. The story is very dated and at the same time not very realistic for the time it took place. There is much better LGBT literature out there but this book deserves recognition for bring one of the first.
Mar 18, 2013 Amelia rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: melcat, lgbtq

Things I liked about this book:

1) The way that Molly described her mother's politics as "to the right of Genghis Khan." That is perhaps the best line I have read, ever. Which is important because I generally think that this book was terribly written, and that the dialogue wasn't realistic at all.

2) How anti-marriage and anti-having children this book is. Because I'm an asshole who doesn't want to get married or have kids.

3) The fact that Molly didn't graduate from college and become wildly s
Rubyfruit Jungle has long been a staple in feminist and lesbian libraries, but this story isn’t exclusively for that audience. It’s a story about Molly Bolt, who lives in relative poverty in rural Pennsylvania. This is Molly’s story, and as she tells it from her perspective, we follow her life as it changes and evolves as she herself grows: from the back country of Pennsylvania, to the suburbs of Florida to the mean streets of New York City. During her Florida years we comes to terms with her se ...more
Clever title. It literally means the vagina and surrounding area.
The first thing I noticed about this book was it's smell. It has a crisp, old book, dusty loveliness. So comforting and everything.

This book does not shy away from many things, laying it out like it is. Meaningful novel about a girl growing up into herself and her sexuality and what that means if she is a lesbian in a homophobic town and household.

Molly has so much wisdom even as an 11 year old girl, or maybe because she is an 1
This was a powerful read that made me feel like I could be or do anything.

Molly is an absolutely captivating main character and seeing her life transition from a young child to an older adult.

I can't even describe all the great things about this book, there are so many. The best parts in this book are always when Molly is talking. Describing herself, her sexuality, how the world looks to her, any time Molly opens her mouth to speak her mind is humbling. Every line of her conversations with othe
Jun 05, 2013 Adam rated it it was amazing
Coming of age story of Molly Bolt, a tom-boy through high school, smart, pretty, popular, lesbian. Attends college on full scholarship, but the influence of her roommate causes the Dean to force her out during her first year... Shamed by her family, she packs up and moves to NYC. Molly makes her way, parties with rich and famous, graduates NYU summa cum laude. But it wasn't easy, every turn of the page is a fight for her to overcome the obstacles of being a woman especially with the prejudice of ...more
Apr 11, 2009 Dharma rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction-women
I just reread that and was amazed how much I did not like it. Mostly the writing is amateurish, luckily she improved in this area. The story reads much more like "I wish I had been this brave and sure, so I'm going to write like I wanted to be, not how I actually was".
Mia Michalek
Oct 02, 2012 Mia Michalek rated it it was amazing
I read this while in high school and I really enjoyed it. I think that I will have to put it in my reread pile!
Apr 13, 2016 Dan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
What a fun read! I received a free copy of Rita Mae Brown's seminal masterpiece as part of a gift bag at this year's Lambda Literary Awards (I was there because my book was nominated!). I've been meaning to read Rubyfruit for years, but had never gotten around to it, but, boy, am I glad this was literally placed in my hands! I tore through it in about two days.

I place this book in the same category as Armistead Maupin's Tales of the City series. Like Maupin's work, Rubyfruit is funny and lighth
I was quite disappointed in this. It was the first lesbian classic that I didn't love. First of all she didn't end up "happy". She was alone and had a qualification in an industry which was too sexist to let her get a job in her field. That's not a happy ending. The thing that I love best about the old pulps are that they are so breathtakingly and heartbreakingly honest. The emotions in them are so raw. This just felt cold and artificial. She moved from one stage of her life to the other and not ...more
Aug 15, 2012 Mfred rated it liked it
Shelves: queer
Originally published at

Well, I finally read Rubyfruit Jungle. I’m not entirely sure what to think of it.

Is it well written, tightly plotted, compelling, and interesting? Not really. One meandering story runs into the next, sometimes without pause. It is very picaresque in that sense; so perhaps Brown purposefully sacrificed plot in order to maintain that genre’s style. I can’t say that it really works. As a loose collection of adventurous anecdotes, I wou
Nicole Mcdonald
Sep 20, 2011 Nicole Mcdonald rated it really liked it
So the very first book I read this year was Rubyfruit Jungle by Rita Mae Brown. It’s one of those classics of lesbian fiction that I’ve never gotten around to until now. When I was back home for Christmas my Dad gave me a big box of books that his (formerly) lesbian friend gave him. As she knows I’m also a queer, she told my Dad there were a bunch of lesbo books in the box that I might like. I went through it but there wasn’t much that struck my fancy except for Rubyfruit Jungle, because I knew ...more
Sep 19, 2011 Hayley rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Rita Mae Brown seems excited to be exploring the evolution of Molly Bolt. Our feisty lesbian protagonist grew up poor in Pennsylvania, moved to Ft. Lauderdale, gets kicked out of UF, and ultimately hitchhikes her way to New York City. Each change of location brings a change of book, literally a different chapter in her life.

This is not a book of heavy introspection. Molly already accepts herself, right from our first meeting with her, when she is in grade school. She satirizes the reaction of t
Reading Rubyfruit Jungle provided me with my very first glimpse into the work of Ruby Mae Brown.
I'll admit that, at first, I really struggled to engage with and appreciate her simplistic style and the unique rhythm of this piece of writing, and I also found myself quite incompatible with, what I perceived as, Molly Bolt's precociousness. However, the fast pace of this novel somehow managed to resolve that issue for me; I then became extremely interested in the feistiness of Molly's narrative and
Apr 29, 2009 Samantha rated it it was amazing
The book's heroine has been described as "a genuine female descendant of Huckleberry Finn." Now I was never a fan of Mark Twain or Huck Finn, but this is a book I had a hard time setting down. The heroine is the adopted daughter of a very poor southern couple who want much better for the daughter...even if it isn't always conveyed with the right sentiment. Unfortunately, Molly and her parents have very different views of what she should pursue. Molly grows up a tomboy who loses her virginity to ...more
Sep 15, 2012 Colleen rated it really liked it
Great book! I tore right through it.

I picked this up on a whim at the University of Delaware Library, and it turned out to be a delightful book. It's about a girl growing up and coming to terms with her lesbian identity. Interestingly enough, she knows she prefers women from an early age, and has an amazing sense of self-esteem and an attitude of "who cares what other people think of me." An attitude to live up to, for sure!

Nothing fancy about her writing style, but it works for this book - the
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Rita Mae Brown is a prolific American writer, most known for her mysteries and other novels (Rubyfruit Jungle). She is also an Emmy-nominated screenwriter.

Brown was born illegitimate in Hanover, Pennsylvania. She was raised by her biological mother's female cousin and the cousin's husband in York, Pennsylvania and later in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida.

Starting in the fall of 1962, Brown attended the Un
More about Rita Mae Brown...

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“It doesn't matter to me. We're still cousins in our own way. Blood's just something old people talk about to make you feel bad.” 31 likes
“I mean, what do people talk about when they're married?" "Their kids, I guess." "Maybe that's all they have in common.” 28 likes
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