Monday, September 3, 2012

Saving Ruth by Zoe Fishman

Book description:

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 life-guarding 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.

This coming of age story is a wonderful read, one that will resonate with anyone who survived the tumultuous transition from teenager to adult.  Both Ruth and her brother struggle with parental expectations and the desire for control over their lives.  They, and their parents, are shaken out of their complacency by a near-tragedy that could have had much worse implications than it did.  Ruth is a well-developed and vulnerable character, one battling with an eating disorder and trying desperately to reconnect with the brother who has always eclipsed her.

Once I started reading, I didn't put this book down until I was finished.  Well-written and well-imagined, this story and the voice rang true from start to finish.  I was genuinely engaged with Ruth as she attempted to navigate the treacherous waters of her first summer home from college- balancing friends, family, and food in desperate attempt to keep it all together.  There are no big revelations here, no life changing message- just a well-crafted coming of age tale that I would recommend to any reader.

5 stars.

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