Reading guide for What Happened to Ruthy Ramirez by Claire Jimenez

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What Happened to Ruthy Ramirez

by Claire Jimenez

What Happened to Ruthy Ramirez by Claire Jimenez X
What Happened to Ruthy Ramirez by Claire Jimenez
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  • Published:
    Mar 2023, 240 pages


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Book Reviewed by:
Callum McLaughlin
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Reading Guide Questions Print Excerpt

Please be aware that this discussion guide will contain spoilers!

  1. Dolores is the mother who knows more about the harsh challenges of the world than her daughters; Jessica is the protective older sister; Ruthy is the middle child; and Nina is the baby. Describe the way that each woman's voice is distinct and how it reveals the role that each character plays in this family.
  2. In the aftermath of Ruthy's disappearance the Ramirez family's lives are irreversibly changed. Thirteen years later, though the Ramirez women have carried on, they hold grief and the wounds of this enormous loss at every turn. In what ways is it reflected in their actions?
  3. Discuss the ways each of the characters want more for themselves and their lives, what they are doing to achieve this, and the forces that work against them.
  4. Discuss how reading about the reality TV show Catfight made you feel, and how it speaks to the depiction of women, especially Black and brown women, in media.
  5. The myriad of ways that women experience violence is central to What Happened to Ruthy Ramirez, and each character has their own story to tell. Describe the ways that each woman attempts to heal, and protect themselves.
  6. The Spanish language is a large part of the novel and often works as a bridge for characters to connect on a deeper level. Describe the ways its inclusion felt essential to the narrative.
  7. Irene is both cherished friend to Dolores and meddlesome troublemaker for Jessica and Nina. How does our understanding of Irene evolve as the novel progresses?
  8. "It was very endearing and very aggressive, this performance of motherhood." The novel deals with complex mother-child bonds, and the experience of new motherhood. How does each woman's experience of being a mother and/or a daughter affect their perspective of what happened to Ruthy?
  9. Ultimately, what do you think the novel is saying about womanhood?
  10. The truth of what happened to Ruthy is unclear until the very end of the novel. Before the reveal, what did you think happened to Ruthy and why, based on the text?
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Unless otherwise stated, this discussion guide is reprinted with the permission of Grand Central Publishing. Any page references refer to a USA edition of the book, usually the trade paperback version, and may vary in other editions.

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