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The Upper Room (Mama Ruby #1)

4.22  ·  Rating Details ·  2,153 Ratings  ·  129 Reviews
Maureen, a young black girl torn between her mother, the notorious Mama Ruby, whose healing powers and reputation cause people to fear her, and the harsh realities of life, comes of age, in a powerful, evocative tale set in a migrant labor camp in the bayous of the Florida Everglades. Reprint.
Paperback, 464 pages
Published July 1st 2004 by Kensington (first published January 12th 1986)
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Brooklyn Darkchild
Mar 16, 2010 Brooklyn Darkchild rated it liked it
Mama Ruby is crazy as a bedbug.
Real Talk.
And everybody is scared of her.
When her best friend delivers a stillborn little girl, Mama Ruby takes it back to her house to bury with the other bodies. But when, quite some time later, the infant miraculously shows signs of life, Mama Ruby chalks it up to her so called "Healing Hands" and hightails it out of town, baby girl in tow.
The residents of her new hometown are just as in awe, and in fear, of Mama Ruby as the folks Ruby left behind. It might ha
Sep 15, 2012 RYCJ rated it it was amazing
Shelves: my-keepers
Storytelling in its finest hour, and in all of its glory. There's very little to say, except I loved, loved this story, and book. Inclusive of a great cast of characters moved by great bodies of rich autistic dialogue, it didn't take long to take a genuine liking to this steep story entrenched in gripping persuasive writing, at all.

Virgil, Hattie, Slim, Fast Black, Mo'reen, and of course Mama Ruby, I couldn't get enough of. I cried laughing throughout. Between `the Lord,' `the Holy Ghost,' and
Bobby Christon-Walker
I read "Mama Ruby" first and then read "The Upper Room". I was really disappointed! As two separate stories, they're okay, but as a set ("The Upper Room" being the "sequel" to "Mama Ruby"), they are inconsistent. It's almost as if the author did not reread "The Upper Room" before writing "Mama Ruby" as the prequel. Also, the endings of BOTH books left too much to be desired. I did enjoy "Mama Ruby" much more than "The Upper Room" but that was only because there was a consistent story that progre ...more
Kiki Bolling
Oct 04, 2012 Kiki Bolling rated it did not like it
Mary Monroe is one of my all time FAVORITE authoress'. She REALLY knows how to create colorful characters and page turning plot lines that keep you coming back for more. HOWEVER....this book was not one of those for me. Despite all the positive reviews I read about it over the internet, I personally did not enjoy it. The story centers around a morbidly obese, emotionally unstable women called mama Ruby. In the story Mama Ruby resurrects her best friend's stillborn daughter (by performing a chris ...more
Mar 28, 2013 Just rated it it was amazing
This book was hilarious. Mama Ruby is quite the character and crazier then anything in this world. Monroe is gifted, making this tale flow so fluently with all the country banter, historical background, and constant surprises. It is no wonder I can't stop laughing or rereading my favorite quotes. This one right here is a classic! I can't wait to get started on part two. There were times I could not hold back my laughter in public, one time I laughed so hard I was in tears bent over. The characte ...more

From the description The Upper Room sounds like it is going to be an interesting read with a Christian slant.    Which is what I expected from an author whose most famous books are part of a series entitled "God Don't Like Ugly".  The Upper Room is not Christian fiction by any stretch of the imagination.  In fact, I don't know what genre to even place it in.

This was not what I was expecting, in a bad way.  I thought I was getting the book in the description the tale of a women stealing a b
Nikinnia Smith
Mama Ruby has some deep issues. She is a very poor, very large woman from Louisiana. Mama Ruby wants a daughter more than anything, but only has a son. She gets her son Virgil to help her steal her best friend, Othella's baby after everyone thinks the baby was stillborn. The baby starts to cry when they are about to bury her. She decides to keep the baby as her own and named her Maureen. Mama Ruby decides to take her son, and stolen daughter to Miami to live. Once there she finds a house that ha ...more
Jessica Thomas lewis
Dec 08, 2012 Jessica Thomas lewis rated it really liked it
After the cliffhanger ending in Mama Ruby, I was anxious to continue her story in The Upper Room.

While I enjoyed The Upper Room very much, the reason WHY Ruby and Othella leave Shreveport, and their travels to Florida is completely different from the first book. Their "why" in Mama Ruby is what carries the book, and I'm confused as to why Mary Monroe chose to change those facts in The Upper Room. It's as if she remembered the characters but forgot the details and didn't bother to go back and ch
Jul 13, 2011 J rated it really liked it
(FROM JACKET)Mama Ruby's known for taking things that aren't rightfully hers, like her best friend's stillborn infant, who she brought back to life and christened Maureen. She's also rumored to have done away wth her husband. Some fear her, others try their best to avoid her. But Mama Ruby doesn't pay any of them mind. Not when she's got the one gift God gave her-her precious baby girl.
But growing up with a mama like Ruby is enough to make any half-sane girl wish for something-anything-else. And
Apr 20, 2012 AlTonya rated it it was amazing
Where do I start in talking about this book? Don't worry there are no spoilers here, but I will say that I was in no way prepared for where this story took me. I experienced sooo many emotions while reading (er- listening) to it thanks to Audible. I was shocked, I was intrigued, I laughed, I was kept on the edge of my seat. Did I mention how much I laughed? This book was a treat! Now it's on to the prequel Mama Ruby and I'm prepared to be shocked all over again. Great story!
Dec 24, 2016 Ginger rated it it was ok
Shelves: audiobook, library
I don't know how I feel about this book. There's something I'm struggling with in regards to mental illness disguised (or not so disguised) as religious fervor. I am working on that aspect of the book and my thoughts about it. There is also something swimming around about manipulative family members and escaping them.
A lot to think about but I didn't like this book at all.
“The Upper Room” by Mary Monroe is a general fiction about a woman wanting a child so much that she is willing to steal her best friend’s baby. The Upper Room is about a crazy, overweight serial killer, who just happened to steal the baby girl she always wanted but never had.
The whole cast of the characters are also crazy, but the true main character is Mama Ruby that claims to be a holy Christian. In reality, the devil is on her shoulder that has access to her whenever. She killed people, a lot
Mar 01, 2017 JoyjaPeach rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audio-book
Mama Ruby was a mess and a half! I couldn't help but love her crazy behind! I really enjoyed this book with all of the drama and foolishness.
Laquisha Sauls
Feb 15, 2017 Laquisha Sauls rated it it was amazing
I couldn't put the book down one of my favorite series of the year so far
Author Mary Monroe takes you (the reader) across the towns of Shreveport,Silo and final Goons.She introduces us to the characters Ruby Montgomery,and her best friend Othella..and host of others.....We follow the character Ruby on her journey,and the reason for her chastizing, lies,healing,being religious,to being a devil in desguise.. and why The Upper Room, is the reason for Mama Ruby evilness,well not the room perse,but lets just say her daughter Maureen plays a major role.Mama Ruby character ...more
Eri Bee
Jul 09, 2013 Eri Bee rated it it was amazing
The Upper Room has to be one of the most superbly written fictional tales out there. The colorfulness of the dialogue produces imagery so vivid that I felt as if I was watching a movie. And let's not forget about it's humor and compelling characters. I found myself laughing out loud, sometimes hysterically, on several occasions throughout the whole book.

Mary Monroe's concept of blessed vs cursed, pure vs tainted, good vs evil that centers around her main character, Mama Ruby, was genius. I felt
Denyece Roberts
Feb 11, 2017 Denyece Roberts rated it it was amazing
Shelves: book-share
The book was a good read. Kip you on your toes.
Jan 26, 2012 Zandra rated it really liked it
If you’re in the mood for a quick read with snappy dialog, vivid imagery and a little bit suspense, then this is the book for you. Mama Ruby, the seventh born daughter of a seventh born daughter, is believed to have special powers. In fact, her “healing hands” brought her best friend Othella’s still born daughter back to life. Since Mama Ruby had always longed to have her very own daughter, she took this as a sign that the baby was a gift from God. So, without a word to Othella, Mama Ruby steals ...more
Jul 04, 2013 Nicole rated it it was ok
I can't say that I really GOT this book. This was only my second time reading Mary Monroe (last week I read "Red Light Wives") so I am just getting acquainted with her style. This story was all over the place, ups and downs, no clear direction...I could not get a sense of where it was going. There were no happy endings, that was for sure. Basically Ruby kidnapped, lied, fornicated, killed, bullied, stole and drank her way through life. That was it. No lesson. No redemption. I think I kept readin ...more
This is the second book to the Mama Ruby story. I did not like this one as much as the first book Mama Ruby due to the drama in the book. It seemed like too much was happening and it seemed a little unrealistic at times. This book also made Mama Ruby seem really crazy. It is like she became a different person from the person she was in the first book. My major problem with the storyline was when Othello came and found Mama Ruby. Monroe only used a couple of chapters to describe what occurred bet ...more
Aug 01, 2012 Ladybugcain rated it it was amazing
Shelves: best-of-the-best
Just finished this and I have to say I loved every second of it. The Upper Room will keep you reading b/c you will always want to know what mama Ruby will do next. The Characters are colorful and relatable. Mary Monroe reveals the way things where during that timeframe for blacks. Sometimes I wasn’t sure to love or hate Mama Ruby.. But as she says she’s God’s Angel and the Devil! I’d recommend this to everyone. Now I am on to the next Mama Ruby book. Told you she will have you wanting to know M ...more
Latisha Fay
Feb 07, 2016 Latisha Fay rated it liked it
I don't know where to begin with this book. All I can do is shake my head. This book hasd made me mad, confused and uncomfortable all at the same time. You'll definitely chuckle through some of the content. I finished this book up in about a week. I never got around to the other installments, which would explain a LOT, but eventually I will. Overall, I do think it's worth the read. I think one would surely thank the heaven's for the family they have, disfuntions an all. I'm sure Madea has nothin ...more
Sep 19, 2011 Andrea rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2011
This is my first book by this author and I really enjoyed it. Ms. Monroe has made one wild character in Mama Ruby. A women who believes she is both blessed by God and at times controlled by the devil. She finds almost none of her actions wrong; be that stealing her best-friend's newborn, beating people up or killing if needed. That seems to be needed a lot. I found the story interesting even if the main character at times is taken to the extreme.
Kimella Davis
Aug 29, 2012 Kimella Davis rated it it was ok
This book was so highly praised.....but I just didn't see why??? The story line of a fat black woman doing things without punishment, killing folk, laying healing hands, calling herself living the gospel of Jesus--- yet would murder someone in a heart beat just didn't make any sense to me.

When I finished the book.... I so wanted to find out the reason behind the title-"The Upper Room" and I am still puzzled???? I would not recommend this book to anyone....
Jul 27, 2014 Shavonne rated it really liked it
When reviewers write "funny" or "witty" or "hilarious" or "you'll laugh at loud," I find myself reading page after page after page wondering when I'm going to laugh out loud. Well, I must say, I found myself laughing out loud reading "The Upper Room." I'm not sure if "Mama Ruby" is the first ficticious black female serial killer (I can't think of another way to describe her), but if she is, writers beware. It'll be hard to top "Mama Ruby."
May 18, 2011 Lisa rated it really liked it
I read this book because I loved the Gods not ugly series. Plus there was so much hypedle surrounding this title. I enjoyed the over all writing but the character's were far fetch even for fictional purposes. Every backwoods town in the rural south has a Mama Ruby. Someone who is so over the
top; they couldn't possibly be real. If you are looking for a enjoyable read about the price of sins and right from wrong then this is for you.
Elizabeth Cox
Mar 20, 2013 Elizabeth Cox rated it it was ok
Read a passage from this book and loved the dialogue. I enjoy reading how black folk really talk and thought the first few pages were amusing. However, the deeper I got into the book the less amusing it became. There is a lot of violence, sex and other things I believe to be immoral in this book. Could not wait till it was over. Had hoped it would turn itself around but it never did. I would not recommend this book to any of my friends.
Jul 02, 2015 Teresa rated it it was ok
I didn't like this book nearly as much as the Mama Ruby prequel or the God Don't Like Ugly series. I found most of the characters to only be semi likeable and quite annoying... especially Mama Ruby's penchant for calling people (and the devil) low down funky black dogs every other page, and the habit of going on and on about how she was basically a perfect Christian and blessed and sanctified etc etc when in actuality she was a multiple murderer, a liar, an alcoholic, and many other things.
Leatha Writes
May 10, 2011 Leatha Writes rated it it was amazing
I just finished rereading this book because I am getting ready for the prequel Mama Ruby.Omg I forgot how crazy Mama Ruby was.Deranged Mama Ruby don't take no mess from nobody.I wonder how in the world did she raise a daughter that was so weak.I have read all of Mary Monroe books and have enjoyed every one.
Jul 12, 2011 Dinishea rated it really liked it
I have read this book before but after reading Mama Ruby recently I had to come back to this book and continue where Ruby abnd Othella left off. Mary Monroe connects the books beautifully and I only wish Mama Ruby was available first with it's tale of the girls unfortunate past and giving the base for a better understanding of the charachters in the Upper Room. I recomend this book.
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  • Don't Want No Sugar
  • The First Lady
  • What They Want
  • Mama Dearest
  • I Know I've Been Changed
  • Holy Ghost Corner
  • Child of God
  • Behind Closed Doors
  • Damaged
  • Somebody's Gotta Be on Top (Soulmates Dissipate, #4)
I am the third child of Alabama sharecroppers and the first and only member of my family to finish high school. I never attended college or any writing classes. I taught myself how to write and started writing short stories around age four. I spent the first part of my life in Alabama and Ohio and moved to Richmond, California in 1973. I have lived in Oakland since 1984.

My first novel THE UPPER RO
More about Mary Monroe...

Other Books in the Series

Mama Ruby (3 books)
  • Mama Ruby
  • Lost Daughters

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