Saving Ruby King by Catherine Adel West
When Ruby King’s mother is found murdered in their home in Chicago’s South Side, the police dismiss it as another act of violence in a black neighborhood. But for Ruby, it’s a devastating loss that leaves her on her own with her violent father. While she receives many condolences, her best friend, Layla, is the only one who understands how this puts Ruby in jeopardy.
Their closeness is tested when Layla’s father, the pastor of their church, demands that Layla stay away. But what is the price for turning a blind eye? In a relentless quest to save Ruby, Layla uncovers the murky loyalties and dangerous secrets that have bound their families together for generations. Only by facing this legacy of trauma head-on will Ruby be able to break free.
An unforgettable debut novel, Saving Ruby King is a powerful testament that history doesn’t determine the present and the bonds of friendship can forever shape the future.
June 16th, 2020
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Saving Ruby King is an ambitious debut novel that introduces us to Ruby and Layla, who have been friends since childhood. Author Catherine Adel West takes on multi-generational relationships, as she shares the nuanced story of a black family’s life on the South Side of Chicago.
When Ruby’s mother Alice is killed on the way home from church, Adel West skillfully pulls back the layers of these two intertwined families and the secrets and history they keep. The multiple points of view storytelling and shifting time periods add so much dimension as they each share what they know and feel. Even the Calvary Hope Christian Church has a voice and adds an integral part to the storyline. While it takes some time to balance all the narrators, once you take it all in, it’s such a powerful and compelling use of layered storytelling and how the past can stay with us forever.
While this book takes on many important and timely present-day issues, Adel West shines at sharing a compelling story of a neighborhood and the families within it. The idea that no one is inherently “good or bad” is masterfully woven into this powerful and often heartbreaking storyline.This novel does an impressive job of delving into racism, domestic abuse, sexual assault, and trauma, while also balancing the power of friendship, hope, and redemption.
I alternated listening and reading this book and it was such an incredible experience. This character-driven novel packs a powerful punch and it would be a wonderful book club selection.
Thank you to NetGalley, Harlequin, and Park Row for the gifted copy. As always, all opinions are my own.
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