Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Saving Ruth, by Zoe Fishman

Ruth is home for the summer after her first year of college, and she thinks everyone seems fixated on her weight.  Sure, she has lost that teenage body fat, but she is hardly thin, at least not in her own mind.  In reality, Ruth is skin and bones.  It causes her family to be distant, particularly her brother David.  She and David work at the local pool as lifeguards, and when a child nearly drowns on their watch, both of them have their eyes opened to the truth about the world in which they live, and the struggles they both are having.

This book was completely captivating.  I thought the character development was superb.  I really related to Ruth, despite the fact that she is a Jewish girl living in the South, and I am a Catholic girl living in the East.  Ruth's struggles with weight, body image, and low self esteem are so common among young girls that I think a lot of readers will see something of themselves in Ruth.  It was interesting to see the situation primarily through her eyes, then having it juxtaposed against the observations of others; this really gave the reader a good idea of how skewed her perceptions of her body are.  I was shocked to learn what David's secret was; I honestly thought it was going to be something completely different, and I still feel like maybe his story was not completely told.

There are a lot of themes going on in this book.  At it's heart, it is a coming of age story, but there is a strong theme of wanting to belong, or fit in.  Ruth and David are Jews living in the South, not completely fitting in.  Racial tensions at the local pool are high, with the whites feeling that black children do not fit in.  Ruth and David both, as individuals, feel they do not fit in to the roles placed upon them.

This book is a wonderful read for the summer.  It flowes quite nicely, and despite dealing with heavy subject matter is a nice quick read.  I think the book will appeal to adult readers, as well as the more mature young adult readers.

I received a review copy of the book courtesy of TLC Book Tours.  View the rest of the tour here, and hear an interview with the author on June 12th, 7pm ET at the Book Club Girl on air show.



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