Melanie Page's Reviews > The Book of Ruth

The Book of Ruth by Jane Hamilton
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it was amazing
Read 2 times. Last read May 16, 2019 to June 14, 2019.

Ruth: Narrator
May: Ruth’s mother
Matt: Ruth’s brother who’s very smart and studies at MIT
Ruby (Ruben): Ruth’s husband
Mrs. Foote (Dee Dee): Daisy’s mother May’s best friend
Randall: Dee Dee’s fat son
Elmer: Ruth Matt’s father who leaves to pick grapefruit in Texas
Willard Jensen: May’s true love who died at war
Miss Finch: Old blind woman who was kind to Ruth
Aunt Sid: May’s sister who cares for Ruth through letters (she “saved” Ruth’s life a million times)

115-116: When I stopped I rolled over on my back, tired and wet. I looked up to the sky, to the Swan constellation. I looked up to all the untroubled stars shining down on me from so far away. Something inside, maybe the part of me that’s the best bowler in the universe, whispered faintly that I was more than an animal, and I tried to remember Miss Finch telling me I had good thoughts--good thoughts she said. And every time the memory came to me, of Ruby and his cruelty, I thought of Aunt Sid, the liar, saying how big the world is, and how when she conducts her chorus and sees all the wide open mouths and hears the music coming out of them, she knows there’s a force, perhaps born of the earth itself, that insists on beauty. Miss Finch has a lot of praise for Ruth, but we’re also given hints about the future of the book and how let down she will be. It’s easy to forget this passage because Ruth easily and quickly idolizes people, making them more than they can ever be.

60: For a split second I had the sensation all through my body that there wasn’t a reason for our being on the planet. We were hurtling through space and there wasn’t any logic to it. It was all for nothing. Such a thought made me feel so lonesome I had to turn over on my stomach and cry for all the world. I cried for the little lamb we had once that lost its hind leg in a dog attack....I cried for it, and the hungry people on top of Starved Rock, and Miss Finch’s blind eyes, and how long and soft the grasses were that I lay in. I cried for the loveliness in the night. The way she cries here shows genuine love for a suffering world. She’s a complex character.

190-191: Jungly Tom Jungle kitten. A scene showing genuine happiness with her husband and how playful they can be, how thoughtful (even if it’s weird) that Ruby can be when he brings her the tail.

326: I don’t know how to answer the question. I didn’t know how to tell her that May and I were the same: ugly and mean and down with our luck. I stare at the ground and she knows the change the subject. Is Ruth really like May? Does she feel this way because she believes people get what they deserve?

328: Aunt Sid tells me how we’re going to live. She says I’ll have my baby and we’ll be a family, eating breakfast out on the porch, with English muffins and orange marmalade, and she’ll teach me what I need to know. She says, “Ruth, you are smart. Do you have any idea how smart you are? You can go to college and study whatever you choose.” Now that Ruth has this ideal scene she pictured as her future, she doesn’t seem to want it. Is it because she notes that Aunt Sid tells her how they’re going to live? Is Ruth really smart? We can’t know because she’s biased.

11: It took me several years to figure out that on that July night we were actually experiencing the gladness some people feel every day, not just once in a summer.

8: My eyes are squinched together; they’re small and gray and they don’t open all the way wife. My mouth isn’t too much better off. It’s tight like a closed drawstring laundry bag. There’s nothing special about my nose: it’s small and sits on my face like someone set it down and forgot to come back for it. My hair, my best feature, is nothing more than tight brown curls stuck to my head like I’d take glue to them, but at least there’s room for improvement....May is very much the same, expect she’s older and uglier and heavier than I am, and she has a wart by her nose. Did the narrator assume she would be just like her mother when she was a little girl? Or is this her looking in hindsight saying that she becomes just like May and it started long ago?

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Reading Progress

April 16, 2012 – Shelved
May 12, 2012 – Started Reading
May 15, 2012 – Finished Reading
May 16, 2019 – Started Reading
June 1, 2019 –
page 166
June 8, 2019 –
page 257
June 14, 2019 – Finished Reading

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