BIPL Reads's Reviews > The Book of Ruth

The Book of Ruth by Jane Hamilton
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Mar 21, 12

bookshelves: skye

Book of Ruth is Jane Hamilton's first novel. Just reading the first lines again grants me the profound pleasure of stumbling on beauty and hard-earned wisdom (about losing one's naivete, or maybe innocence) in the lingua franca of rural Wisconsin.

"What it begins with, I know finally, is the kernel of meanness in people's hearts. I don't know exactly how or why it gets inside us; that's one of the mysteries I haven't solved yet. I always tried to close my eyes and believe that angels, invisible in their gossamer dresses, were keeping their loving vigil. I learned, slowly, that if you don't look at the world with perfect vision, you're bound to get yourself cooked."

This book was an early Oprah choice, but it stands out from the crowd because of its lyricism and awkward, bawdy truthfulness. It was published in 1988 and was influential in helping to make room for a certain kind of passionate female voice and underprivileged-girl-lost coming-of-age story in the mainstream publishing world. Personally, I have read it so many times I can practically recite parts of it out loud. Great book.

The New York Times Book Review said, "Ms. Hamilton gives Ruth a humble dignity and allows her hope--- but it's not a heavenly hope. It's a common one, caked with mud and held with gritted teeth. And it's probably the only kind that's worth reading about."

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Comments (showing 1-2 of 2) (2 new)

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message 1: by Linda (new)

Linda I have read it twice and agree with you. I can't understand a bad review for this book. It is beautifully written and states what the reader feels, but in a comical way.


Adrienne Savage That very first line that you quoted is the same exact line that drew me into the book and pushed me to finish the book in a matter of hours. That same line spoke to me just as it did to you. I occasionally still just randomly think about that line of the book at the most random times.


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