"I learned, slowly, that if you don't look at the world with perfect vision, you're bound to get yourself cooked." Having come within an inch of her life, Ruth Dahl is determined to take a good look at itand to figure out whether, in fact, she's to blame for the mess. Pegged the loser in a small-town family that doesn't have much going for it in the first place, Ruth grows up in the shadow of her brilliant brother, trying to survive in a world of poverty and hardship. Matt's brain is his ticket out of Honey Creek. Ruth, without options, cleaves instead to her tough, half-crazy mother, May, and eventually to Ruby, the sweet but slightly deranged young man she loves, marries, and supports. Ruth spots stains at Trim 'N Tidy dry cleaners, bowls at the Town Lanes, and tries in vain to keep the peace at home between May, whose lashing criticisms blow through the cramped house with gale force, and Ruby, who spends his days getting stoned and watching reruns of
Bewitched on television. When the precarious household erupts in violence, Ruth is the only one who can piece their story togetherand she gets to the truth in a manner at once ferocious, hilarious, and heartbreaking.
In this powerful, incandescent novel, Jane Hamilton has worked a small miracle: she has given voice to a young woman who is indistinguishable except for her passion in her commitment to life.
The Book of Ruth is a stunning testament to the human capacity for mercy, compassion, and love.
Winner of the 1989 PEN/Hemingway Foundation Award for best first novel.
New York Times Book Review
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.
Boston Sunday Globe
A sly and wistful, if harrowing, human comedy. Hamilton is a new and original voice in fiction and one well worth listening to.
An extraordinary story of a family's disintegration... Will be compared to Jane Smiley's A Thousand Acres. Astonishingly vivid and moving.
An enthralling tale of guilt, betrayal, and the terrifying ways our lives.
Hamilton's story builds to a shocking crescendo. Her small-town characters are a appealingly offbeat and brushed with grace as any found in Alice Hoffman's or Anne Tyler's novels.
An American beauty this book... The narrator of Jane Hamilton's sensational first novel is a holy lusty innocent.
In her first novel, Hamilton takes on a challenge too large for her talents....[she] evokes Ruth's character marvelously, but others as seen by her are incompletely rendered.
Unforgettably, beat by beat, Hamilton maps the best and worst of the human heart and all the mysterious, uncharted country in between.
Recent Reader Reviews
Rated of 5
by Carolyn The Book of Ruth Ms. Hamilton creates a believable narrator in Ruth; Ruth breaks our hearts and teaches us about her life in north central Illinois during the 1970's. The location can be seen as a character as well.
I used this novel in an Illinois Literature... Read More
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