Reading guide for Ruby by Cynthia Bond

Summary |  Excerpt |  Reading Guide |  Reviews |  Beyond the Book |  Readalikes |  Genres & Themes |  Author Bio

Ruby

A Novel

By Cynthia Bond

Ruby
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

     Not Yet Rated
  • Hardcover: Apr 2014,
    336 pages.

    Publication Information

  • Rate this book


Book Reviewed by:
Lucy Rock

Buy This Book

About this Book

Reading Guide Questions Print Excerpt

Please be aware that this discussion guide may contain spoilers!

  1. How did Ruby's story change the way you view the world? What does the novel show us about the nature of trauma and the power of compassion?
  2. Celia copes with tragedy by putting her world in strict order, from her household to her church life. Ruby becomes lost to disorder. What accounts for their different approaches to emotional pain?
  3. At the heart of the novel is Ruby's vision of her children, and her vision of herself as a mother. How is she able to respond with a nurturing urge although no one nurtured her? Discuss the roles of mothers and fathers in Liberty.
  4. How did your understanding of the Dyboù shift throughout the novel? Do you believe that evil comes from the supernatural or spiritual, or that it is simply part of human nature?
  5. What protection do you think Ma Tante gives to young Maggie, Ruby, and Ephram? Are they comforted by her powers, or does she only stoke their fears?
  6. What fuels the racism depicted in the novel? Do some of these factors persist today? Discuss Ruby's different experiences with racism in East Texas, New York City, and on her trip back to Liberty.
  7. As you read the story of Ruby's mother, how did you react to the notion that the past is still present? What does it take to overcome the Bell family's legacy?
  8. What role does Christianity play in Liberty? Does faith enhance or hinder Celia and her congregation in their attempts to heal Ruby? What does Ephram's baptism mean to him?
  9. Discuss the irony of the township's name. Is there any liberty for the novel's African American characters there? How do their experiences compare to the freedoms and shackles Ruby encounters in New York?
  10. Otha Jennings and Ruby both lose their sanity as a result of the Reverend Jennings's actions, while chapter twenty reveals the Reverend's own tormented past. In the novel, how do women and men react differently to trauma? How are the expectations for Liberty's girls different from those for the boys?
  11. The author gives us vivid scenes of the night on which Ruby's fate was hinged. What were the Reverend's motivations that night? As you read the scene from the perspective of different characters, how did your perceptions change?
  12. Evoking the image of a precious gem, why is Ruby's name appropriate? Throughout her life, what is she taught about her beauty and her value?
  13. What common losses do Ruby and Ephram share, from childhood to adulthood? What opens their eyes to the possibility of peace? What do you predict for their future?
  14. Although Ruby is a work of fiction, the situations it describes are very much a reality. How can you and your community help protect the most vulnerable?

Unless otherwise stated, this discussion guide is reprinted with the permission of Hogarth Books. Any page references refer to a USA edition of the book, usually the trade paperback version, and may vary in other editions.

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Beyond the Book:
  Hoodoo

Member Benefits

Join Now!

Check the advantages!
Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year

    •  
    • FREE
    • MEMBER
    • Range of media reviews for each book
    • Excerpts of all featured books
    • Author bios, interviews and pronunciations
    • Browse by genre
    • Book club discussions
    • Book club advice and reading guides
    • BookBrowse reviews and "beyond the book" back-stories
    •  
    • Reviews of notable books ahead of publication
    •  
    • Free books to read and review (US Only)
    •  
    • Browse for the best books by time period, setting & theme
    •  
    • Read-alike suggestions for thousands of books and authors
    •  
    • 'My Reading List" to keep track of your books
    •  
Sign up, win books!

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: The Hundred-Year House
    The Hundred-Year House
    by Rebecca Makkai
    Rebecca Makkai's sophomore novel The Hundred-Year House could just have easily been titled ...
  • Book Jacket
    The Valley of Amazement
    by Amy Tan
    "Mirror, Mirror on the wall
    I am my mother after all!"


    In my pre-retirement days as a professor ...
  • Book Jacket: A Man Called Ove
    A Man Called Ove
    by Fredrik Backman
    Reading A Man Called Ove was like having Christmas arrive early. Set in Sweden, this debut novel is ...

First Impressions

Members read and review books ahead
of publication. See what they think
in First Impressions!

Books that
expand your
horizons.

Visitors can view a lot of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only

Find out more.

Book Discussions
Book Jacket

The Arsonist
by Sue Miller

Published Jun. 2014

Join the discussion!

  1.  131Tomlinson Hill:
    Chris Tomlinson

All Discussions

Win this book!
Win The Angel of Losses

The Angel of Losses

"Family saga, mystery, and myth intersect in Feldman's debut novel." - Booklist

Enter

Word Play

Solve this clue:

E C H A Silver L

and be entered to win..

Books thatinspire you.Handpicked.

Books you'll stay up all night reading; books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, books that will expand your mind and inspire you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.