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3.64  ·  Rating details ·  13,565 ratings  ·  2,421 reviews
The epic, unforgettable story of a man determined to protect the woman he loves from the town desperate to destroy her—this beautiful and devastating debut heralds the arrival of a major new voice in fiction.

Ephram Jennings has never forgotten the beautiful girl with the long braids running through the piney woods of Liberty, their small East Texas town. Young Ruby, "the
Paperback, 368 pages
Published February 10th 2015 by Hogarth (first published April 29th 2014)
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Steph I don't agree. The book, while full of dark situations and issues, is beautifully written. I think that the fact that some people can't get through it…moreI don't agree. The book, while full of dark situations and issues, is beautifully written. I think that the fact that some people can't get through it speaks to how well its written (people are complaining about the subject matter, now how it's written). She makes you vividly see and hear things with her prose. I know some ppl are put off by the prostitution of children, but she's the LEAST explicit in those moments. Inferring what is going on but not being perverse. (less)
Jim Hiller I haven't read most of Oprah's picks, and I chose this one. It is a difficult read, because of the subject matter. However, the prose is rich and the …moreI haven't read most of Oprah's picks, and I chose this one. It is a difficult read, because of the subject matter. However, the prose is rich and the story compelling. I nearly gave it up, but found my entrance into the story about 100 pages in. My tenacity was rewarded. I haven't ever been as affected by a book as I have with this one. (less)

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Average rating 3.64  · 
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Shelby *trains flying monkeys*
Mar 14, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Shelby *trains flying monkeys* by: KatieMc
How do I give this book five stars? It rips your soul out of your body with it's strong, dark presence. You beg to be released from the grips of this story. This one ain't farting rainbow unicorns, boys and girls.

Ephram Jennings met young Ruby when she and her cousin happen upon him fishing in the local pond. They take him with them to meet with the local voodoo woman Ma Tante. This sets the tone for the book and the author brings alive the scene and scared the crap outta me. She sees that Ruby
Jessica McCann
Feb 20, 2014 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: no one
Recommended to Jessica by: I won an advance reader copy from the publisher
My personal rule has long been to only rate and review books I enjoyed reading. Not every book is for every person. A book I dislike may be a book you love. To each his or her own. Yet, for RUBY, I'm breaking my rule. This book was not at all what the jacket or summary described, and I feel that a strong warning to potential readers is necessary.

There are many positive reviews for RUBY, and I can understand why to a certain extent. There were some things I loved about it. The book contains beaut
May 29, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Cheryl by: Amanda
As I read this book, high school football at Sayreville was shut down because of hazing and sexual allegations: deviant acts that caused widespread shock. I won't disclose them here because as I researched the specific incidents, I was sickened; however, should you choose to search beyond the mainstream banter, you could find answers. After the incident, school officials shut down the program not only because of the lewd acts (which thankfully, someone had the gall to stand up against a group of ...more
Apr 29, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
***Phenomenal***The one word I can use to describe Cynthia Bond's debut novel. This story will take you to the depths of sadness and despair and raise you up with glimmers of hope and love. The story takes place in Liberty, Texas. An ironic name, given there is anything but, unless you are a man. It's a town where black magic is embedded in the soil and where evil works its way through the town's men. Ruby is a daughter of the community - her only parent having passed when she was 6. This is her ...more
Angela M
Feb 11, 2015 rated it really liked it

The writing is elegant in so many places .

"Blackened nails as if she had scratched the slate of night. Her acres of legs carrying her , arms swaying like a loose screen. Her eyes the ink of sky, just before the storm."

"They stared at each other under the ancient sky with the soft rain and the full wet earth. More than anything Ephram wanted to talk to her and tell her things he'd kept locked in the storehouse of his soul. He wanted to talk to her about the way Rupert Shankle's melons split on t
Nov 30, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: blog, arc
I received an advanced reader's copy from the publisher in return for an honest review.

The small town of Liberty, Texas, offers its residents anything but liberty. People find themselves bound by secrets, both theirs and those of others. It's a place where God's word is in everyone's mouth, but it's the devil who rules their hearts--and he roams the woods at night. With hypocritical righteousness and dark intentions, the town turns as a whole on Ruby Bell. The beautiful and spirited Ruby is a mo

Edited to add on 2/20/15: 1 star, or why Oprah really got it wrong with this selection.

(Full disclosure: book abandoned at page 62 [out of 326 pages].)

Sometimes when a story tries too hard to impress it ends up the exact opposite of what the author intends: mediocre. Such is the case with Ruby. Already in the first 62 pages it's clear author Cynthia Bond was overly ambitious, with the result being over-description and melodramatic characters.

Told partially in flashback form, th
Apr 20, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I am very conflicted about this novel. The author is brilliantly gifted with a genius for writing. Her prose is beautiful, her descriptions beyond illuminating, her characters fully drawn and brought to life. The writing in this novel is luminous. The story is riveting, moving and haunting. My problem with the book is that the story is so overwhelmingly disturbing, and Bond's talents make it almost unbearably painful to read. There were many times when I wanted to put it down, get it out of my h ...more
Patrice Hoffman

Ruby by Cynthia Bond is a profound debut novel featuring two beautiful, yet battered souls. On one hand we have Ruby. Evident from page one she comes off as a woman who has seen better days. People of Liberty watch her as she begs Miss P for food. She's no longer the beauty she once was, but still Ephram Jennings only sees her through loving eyes.

Ephram Jennings has loved Ruby since they were children and has never stopped. After seeing her fall so far from glory, Ephram decides to save he
This would have to be the hardest, most draining novel I’ve read in a long time. It’s set in a religious town in Texas, called Liberty. But unlike its name and religious values, the residences of Liberty are the most callous, sinful people you will ever read; violent men abusing the young and vulnerable for their own sick pleasure, and then toss them out like a bag of trash. And the women are no better, hypocritical and manipulate, who preach the good of mankind, compassion and kindness, yet shu ...more
Chris Blocker
Mar 09, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Ruby is such an extraordinary novel. I sort of feel sorry for it and its author because I worry it will not get the attention it deserves. It's written so well and the story is so captivating, but the subject and some of those scenes will surely alienate many.

Cynthia Bond writes like a young Toni Morrison. I love Toni Morrison, but I must say that I much prefer her earlier work. Morrison's writing has always been phenomenal, but her more recent books do not engage me. They're gorgeously written,
On paper this book should've punched me in the stomach, but in reality it fell a little flat. I wanted to connect with these characters, but something just kept me on the outside looking in. Ruby Bell is a beautiful black woman living in a small Texas town. She is berated, used, and the main source of gossip by the entire town. Ephram Jennings falls in love and will stop at nothing to save Ruby from the town and herself. I appreciated the grand gestures (who doesn't want someone to rescue them f ...more
Brown Girl Reading
I hate expecting great things from a novel but as every page gets turned I feel a little let down. Ruby, not at all what I expected, is Cynthia Bond’s debut novel that explores the life of an African-American woman called Ruby Bell, who has mentally and physically broken down from plenty of neglect and abuse past and present. Ephram Jennings is the man who loves her and has done so since they were children. He’s described as being a simple man. He has never forgotten her. And so the story begins ...more
From the Baileys Prize shortlist, a disturbing yet beautiful debut novel that contrasts mental illness and sexual abuse with magic realism. When Ruby Bell returns to Liberty Township, her east Texas hometown, in 1964, her fellow black folk turn her into a victim of derision. The churchgoing men of the town get the idea that they can use her body however they want. In part this is because her mental health is deteriorating, and the more she struggles to stifle traumatic memories the stranger she ...more
Aug 04, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Ruby, the novel, is difficult to describe accurately. Bond's writing is beautiful and complex, and Ruby is an amazing first work. Its two main characters are pitiable, damaged and very likable. On the one hand, this book is a treasure and unlike any other I've read. On the other hand, the evil characters are so one-dimensionally, over-the-top evil and the list of crimes and suffering several characters suffer at the hands of the evil ones, and Ruby, in particular, suffers so much and in ways tha ...more
Kirk Smith
Mar 04, 2015 rated it it was ok
I want to read the NEXT book Cynthia Bond writes. I find her style and her descriptions to be very good. She is a bit of a shock artist, with sexual abuse of children as a repetitive occurrence throughout, it seemed over the top. Too much abuse and degradation without any insight into healing or resolution. The pace of the book was slow,slow,ABUSE,slow,slow,ABUSE,slow...(you see the pattern). I felt like a bystander waiting to witness a train crash, and then on to see the next crash with more t ...more
Jenny (Reading Envy)
This book was on my radar since 2014, but the descriptions I read made it very unappealing. This is going to sound horrible no matter how I say it but I just wasn't sure I wanted to read another novel about a woman who spends her life being victimized. I agree it is horrible, but why spend time reading it?

What most summaries neglected to say is that the writing is spectacular. Really, truly. And that pulled it up out of the other qualms I have about it. Those qualms include, well, the constant
May 05, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A stellar debut. Probably the most surprising book I've read this year. Received it in galleys after having met Cynthia Bond years ago, when this novel was most likely just a gleam in the author's mind. I opened it with that mixture of curiosity and dread with which every reader of a prepublication copy of a novel greets that package. Hoping only that it 'won't be too bad.' Then I began to read and I found myself shouting out to my partner (who was trying to sleep) how beautiful it was. The root ...more
Susan Crowe
I wish I could give this more than five stars. I honestly don't have the words to describe how I'm feeling after reading/listening to this book. it is an example of love in it's purest form. Everyone could only hope they had someone to love them like Ephram Jennings loves Ruby Bell. If you aren't reading this book because Oprah recommended it, you are only cheating yourself out of something you will never forget. This book will stay in my mind for the rest of my life. I guarantee. ...more
Jun 16, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book is excellent. Please be aware that subject matter is very harsh and graphic at times. I am shocked this is a debut novel. This is a horror, love and redemptive story all in one book.
Jan 06, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I received an advanced readers edition through a Goodreads Giveaway for review

In a small area, on the Eastern side of Texas, there is a town(ship) named Liberty, but don’t let the name fool you, for this town is filled with enough oppression that the name Liberty may seem totally unconceivable. The oppression is not only contrived from the segregation and fear that the “Whites” uphold toward this “Colored” section of Liberty, but the town seems to be possessed by creatures of the evil kind, as
Melissa Crytzer Fry
Aug 04, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Books keep us reading for different reasons. For some it’s plot, for others it’s characterization, and yet for others it’s beautifully crafted sentences or a sense of intrigue. Some of us like fast-paced, some of us like a slow trickle that places us in the hearts of characters.

This book is truly unlike anything I’ve ever read. For me, personally, the keep-reading factor was multi-faceted. The story is filled with haints and the souls of small children – and I believe it is up to the reader to d
Feb 27, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I wanted to love this novel -- terrific historic setting, elements of magic and mysticism, a real feeling/influence of Toni Morrison, heartbreaking tragedy -- but I can't say I loved it. In fact, I found the last third a struggle to read. No doubt it's impressive, but it's horrifyingly violent and nasty without enough lyricism or moments of beauty to balance the wretchedness. I can appreciate the talent of this author -- the novel's structure, pace, characterization, honesty -- but I didn't enjo ...more
Jan 22, 2014 rated it liked it
Initially, I found Ruby difficult to follow and almost gave up, but as I began Part 2, the story began to make a bit more sense.

While filled with numerous "ghostly" flashbacks and dark topics including child rape, baby brutality, racism and animal cruelty, its saving grace was Ephram who (view spoiler) shows his deeply rooted love and perseveres through beatings and ridicule during Ruby's fight (view spoiler)

I, unfortunately, d

Feb 13, 2015 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
In a word: traumatizing. This book was filled with rape and abuse, described in detail over and over again. The synopsis of this novel indicates that it is full of life, but I found it only to be a depiction of misogyny, superstition, and racism. Was it well written? Sure. Would I recommend? No, absolutely not. I couldn't find anything redeeming in the tragedy of this book. Honestly, I don't know how I finished it. ...more
Feb 27, 2015 rated it did not like it
This is a DNF. I am in agreement with those who think Oprah really got it wrong !!!! This sentence sounds like my seven year old grandson, but in the interest of time ... the Voo doo stuff is creeping me out, the sexual stuff is grossing me out , and the abuse is making me angry. Less than 1 star - DNF
Book Mitch
The closest I can get to comparing this book to anything is perhaps Beloved? But with more gristle.

Any time someone can transport me into another world within minutes, and make me feel sympathy pains for characters in a book as if they were my kin deserves high praise. This book was like a low, gutteral moan...

The imagery was astounding. The sweat and dust in a lazy small town. The characters were both tender and gritty. There was the spooky element of voo-doo, but also the heartbreaking love st
The book jacket describes Ruby as “full of life, exquisitely written, and suffused with the pastoral beauty of the rural South, Ruby is a transcendent novel of passion and courage." Did the author of those words read the book? One of my pet peeves is when a book says that it’s one thing, but ends up being something else. I can read stories where the main protagonist has survived horrific violence during their childhood, but I need to know that it’s coming up. I was totally floored, upset, and th ...more
Lara Maynard
I gaze into my crystal ball and see:

1. Cynthia Bond is going to be big.

2. There will be comparisons to Nobel Prize laureate Toni Morrison ; and Ruby will be compared with Morrison's Beloved .

3. Readers will say, "More, please, Cynthia Boyd."

4. Boyd's work will enter the canon of Southern and African American literature.

Disclosure: I received a copy of Ruby: A Novel from Goodreads as a First Reads lucky winner.

A PS added 26 April 2014: If you've noticed the 2014 BookCon buzz about diversity issu
OMG!! I typically don't like this type of subject matter in a book but this debut novel is a GEM!! The writing is exquisite despite the disturbingly graphic and violent content. Profound in nature, this is soul stirring storytelling that commands to reader to dive in. Read it, you won't regret it! ...more
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CYNTHIA BOND is a New York Times Best-Selling Author. Her novel RUBY was chosen to be an Oprah Book Club 2.0 selection. RUBY was also a Barnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers selection, and an Indie Next Pick. A PEN Rosenthal Fellow, Bond attended Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism, then moved to New York and attended the American Academy of Dramatic Arts. She founded the Bla ...more

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