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The Book of Ruth
by Jane Hamilton

Category: Fiction / General
328 pages; ISBN: 0-3851-6570-0

Rating: 10/10  (Ratings explained)
Reviewer: Coletta Ollerer


Ruth is a girl separate from the main stream: strange looking, a poor student. In fact, her language implies she has a borderline retardation. Her low self-esteem is reinforced by a mother who prefers Ruth’s brother, Matt, and is not shy about expressing her choice. Ruth’s resentment and indignation moves her to lash out at her brother and harbor animosity toward her mother. Her mother, May, cannot shake her disdain for her daughter while smothering Matt with love. Nonetheless, Matt hates his home life and leaves at the first opportunity.
Ruth marries a man her mother dislikes. This puts a lot of pressure on the marriage since economic necessity forces them to live under her roof. Ruth’s sad life is tempered by the kindness of a few friends and her Aunt Sid. “For coffee she (Aunt Sid) suggested moving to the screened-in porch, and when she brought out the mugs, she also had a box, containing all my letters, tied up by the year in green ribbon. She had saved my letters because they were precious to her. I sat in my chair long past dark, reading my life over by candlelight while Sid moved in and out, doing her chores, washing the dishes and reading her paper.”
This is a story of abuse, desperation and redemption and love. The reader comes to understand and sympathize with Ruth and is pulling for her. The story is engaging and highly recommended because of its content and especially because the author skillfully takes on the voice of a person with a skimpy education, low IQ and deprived background and reveals her as worthwhile and very heroic. Ruth’s natural wisdom prevails as she comes to grips with the terrible calamity which changes her life.


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