Rubyfruit Jungle
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Rubyfruit Jungle

3.83 of 5 stars 3.83  ·  rating details  ·  17,248 ratings  ·  536 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)
more details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Rubyfruit Jungle, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Rubyfruit Jungle

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  rating details
Jan 05, 2014 Donna rated it 5 of 5 stars
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, occ...more
Jan 03, 2008 Tatiana rated it 1 of 5 stars
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,...more
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
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...more
Jennifer Peas
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 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...more
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 1 of 5 stars
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...more
May 14, 2007 sydney rated it 3 of 5 stars
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)...more
Sabrina Chapadjiev
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...more
Jun 10, 2011 Meen rated it 2 of 5 stars  ·  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...more
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
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.
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".
Cheryl in CC NV
This must have been amazing when it was first published. Judy Blume for grown-up women? It was fun for me even though I wasn't at all shocked.
Mia Michalek
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!

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...more
Aug 15, 2012 Mfred rated it 3 of 5 stars
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...more
My mother's totally 2nd wave feminist, lesbian, sepratist, viola playing best friend gave me this book when I was 15. Hinting at what exactly? Rita bums me out with her anti butch sentiments. However, I love her notion of sexual superiority in pretty much every way possible. Rita's turnin' everyone out from her uptight square lipstick bestfriend to her mother fucking cousin. It could be annoyingly self indulgent but it's so over the top sometimes that I just love it. She's incredibly judgemental...more
Nicole Mcdonald
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
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...more
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...more
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
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...more
Picked up this book and finished it in one sitting. Easy read, humorous, but conveyed an important message about feminism and being a lesbian in American society...the world is different and difficult when you walk through it as a woman. Even though this was set in the '50s and '60s, I believe that many of the main character's experiences would still live true today.

"I wished I could walk down the streets & not hear those constant, abrasive sounds from the mouths of the opposite sex. Damn, I...more
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
Steve Isaak
Bawdy, milestone, blunt and well-written, Rubyfruit is a mainstream-ish coming-of-lesbian-age tale about a Southern girl (Molly Bolt) who realizes early on that her urges - often not considered "lady-like" - don't gibe with the repressive societal elements of the Fifties and Sixties. It's emotional without being overly so; its points, plot and otherwise, cut across different social territories; its characters feel real and familiar.

Rubyfruit is an excellent, occasionally chatty read, one worth o...more
I know this book is highly regarded, but I feel like it may be a product of its time and hasn't aged well. The dialogue is hokey and doesn't always ring true, and this seems more like a wish fulfillment-type story than something real. From a quick scan of the author's Wikipedia page, "Rubyfruit Jungle" seems to be based on her own experiences growing up, but this seemed like a case of "Oh man, I wish I'd said that to him," - like thinking of a comeback to a putdown when you're far past the exper...more
2014 re-read: I read this first when I was a teenager. I can't remember what I thought of it, for the most part.

I did enjoy this book as a teenager, mostly due to the fact that it was one of the first lesbian books I had ever read; it was one of my first experiences of having any sort of positive representation. This time I read it, I gave a passing nod to the lesbianism, but I enjoyed other things more: the talk of self (and not compromising it), gender, race, class, social abilities, conformit...more
Andrea Arbit
Something about the way this book was written made it difficult for me to really connect with the story. I think it was either the amount of dialogue (which made things sometimes hard to follow), or the strangeness of it. Nearly everything Molly said or thought seemed like something that could only become apparent years later and fabricated while looking back on memories with the luxury of hindsight. She seemed too sure of herself, and too "devil-may-care" about what anyone else thought for me t...more
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 99 100 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity Bo...: Rubyfruit Jungle. 7 92 Aug 04, 2013 03:53AM  
  • Patience & Sarah
  • Desert of the Heart
  • Curious Wine
  • Aimée & Jaguar: A Love Story, Berlin 1943
  • The Persistent Desire: A Femme-Butch Reader
  • Stone Butch Blues
  • The Well of Loneliness
  • Stir-Fry
  • The Price of Salt
  • Dykes to Watch Out For (DtWOF, #1)
  • Odd Girls and Twilight Lovers: A History of Lesbian Life in Twentieth-Century America
  • Odd Girl Out
  • Good Moon Rising
  • Zami: A New Spelling of My Name
  • Trash
  • Stay (Aud Torvingen #2)
  • Valencia
  • Persistence: All Ways Butch and Femme
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.
More about Rita Mae Brown...
Wish You Were Here (Mrs. Murphy, #1) Murder at Monticello (Mrs. Murphy #3) Murder, She Meowed (Mrs. Murphy #5) Rest in Pieces (Mrs. Murphy #2) Pay Dirt (Mrs. Murphy, #4)

Share This Book

“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.” 25 likes
“I mean, what do people talk about when they're married?" "Their kids, I guess." "Maybe that's all they have in common.” 23 likes
More quotes…