June 23, 2009

The Book of Ruth by Jane Hamilton

I've read a lot of heavy books in a row. I usually prefer heavy books, but I think I need some brain candy now. Something with heaving bosoms on the cover.

The Book of Ruth is the product of what I think of as the meme (as in Me! Me!) literary era of the late 90's. During that time everyone was writing about their sordid childhoods and blaming everything on their parents and getting paid for it.

This book is a novel written sort of like an autobiography. Ruth is a lower-class rural girl who is smart, but is so accustomed to being called stupid that she is held back by her circumstances. She makes decisions that reflect those circumstances, never imaging another way of life. She has an aunt with whom she corresponds, and this aunt is the one positive influence in her life. But it takes some extreme events to get Ruth to consider other options.

I believe the title is due to the fact that Ruth lives with her mother all her life, even though their love / hate relationship leans closer to hate. And Ruth comes to realize how similar to her mother she really is. That's about the only similarity I can find to the biblical Ruth though.

This wasn't a bad book, but it wasn't a walk in the park either. I'd recommend it for a student of sociology, but not otherwise.

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