Monday, June 18, 2012
Saving Ruth: A Novel by Zoe Fishman
When Ruth returns home to the South for the summer after her freshman year at college, a near tragedy pushes her to uncover family truths and take a good look at the woman she wants to become.
Growing up in Alabama, all Ruth Wasserman wanted was to be a blond Baptist cheerleader. But as a curly-haired Jew with a rampant sweet tooth and a smart mouth, this was an impossible dream. Not helping the situation was her older brother, David - a soccer star whose good looks, smarts, and popularity reigned at school and at home. College provided an escape route and Ruth took it.
Now home for the summer, she's back lifeguarding and coaching alongside David, and although the job is the same, nothing else is. She's a prisoner of her low self-esteem and unhealthy relationship with food, David is closed off and distant in a way he's never been before, and their parents are struggling with the reality of an empty nest. When a near drowning happens on their watch, a storm of repercussions forces Ruth and David to confront long-ignored truths about their town, their family, and themselves.
Story: Overloaded with issues/themes.
Overall: Airport or beach read.
Saving Ruth is definitely an airport or beach read - a quick read that you won't mind leaving behind (in the off chance you forget it on the seat next to yours). I feel harsh writing that, but its true. This is a book that is just too clogged with ideas for its own good. Its as if someone asked, "How many issues/themes can you fit into a book?" And Fishman answered by stuffing as many as she could think of into her book - such as, depression, marital discord, eating disorders, racism, antisemitism, self-esteem, etc. Seriously, there are just too many heavy issues to deal with that they just get glossed over in the book and aren't ever really tackled. Plus, having to mention all of these topics weighs down the flow of the story and doesn't allow any room for the characters to really grow enough; thereby leaving you with a rather disappointing read. Ugh! The thing that gets me is that this story had so much potential to be a really good read - why, couldn't Fishman have just focused on one or two issues?!
Alright, so what exactly is the story about? Its about Ruth Wasserman and her summer at home in Alabama. She's just finished her freshman year at college (that exciting time when you get your first feel of freedom - no parents!) and is having to deal with adjusting to living at home again (regressing to feeling like a child). Her plans for the summer are to work as a lifeguard at the local pool, hang out with her friends, and continue her diet of not eating so that she can remain super skinny - nothing too taxing for Ruth. Of course, nothing goes as planned. There is near drowning at the pool - on Ruth and her brother, David's, watch to be precise - talk about guilty consciences. And then there are Ruth's rotten teeth - a result of eating tons of candy, but no actual food (her idea of a diet!). Plus, her parent's aren't even sharing a room anymore (divorce? empty nest?) and David is blatantly ignoring her and their parents (unhappy? depressed? drug dependency?). All in all, a very busy summer for the Wasserman family.
Saving Ruth was just not my cup of tea. I'm not going to be recommending the book, but I'm not going to deter anyone from reading it. At the end of the day, its a somewhat solid read that does include a lot of relatable experiences/issues; which makes it a good airport/beach read.