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Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Summer Novel's Got More Depth Than You'd Think

(Image from Barnes & Noble)

Ruth Wasserman should be content with her life.  Not only has she finally managed to burn off the extra pounds that have plagued her for most of her 19 years, but she's also living on her own and working hard to earn a college degree.  Now that she's returned home to Alabama for the summer, she should have only one thing on her mind:  relaxation.  If only.  It's not her lifeguard/swim coach job that's got her worried (she could do it in her sleep) or seeing old friends (she looks better now than she ever has), it's the fact that she'll be living with her parents (loving, but overprotective) and her older brother, David (the charming, soccer-playing wonder child).  How can she keep her secret to staying slim, well ... secret?  

Turns out, Ruth's not the only one hiding something.  David's never been all that chatty anyway, but now he's downright standoffish.  He's not acting like himself.  The question is why?  What's he hiding?  Then, there are Ruth's parents, who are also acting strange.  What's up with them?  As Ruth tries to figure out what's going on with her family, deals with drama at the pool, and tries to keep her eating disorder under wraps, she finds the summer becoming a whole lot more complicated than she ever dreamed it could be.  When a near drowning happens while Ruth and David are on the job, it will force them to face truths they've been ignoring for too long—truths about themselves, their family, and the quaint little town in which they've grown up.  

Although Saving Ruth by Zoe Fishman looks like a nice, fluffy summer read, it really isn't.  The pool setting gives it a nostalgic setting, true, but the subjects tackled in the novel (eating disorders, racism, family conflict) make it a deeper read than it might appear to be at first glance.  That being said, I actually think the book tries to cover too much territory as the racist subplot seems tacked on to me.  Also, there's Ruth.  Usually, I love me a snarky underdog of a heroine, but something about this one rubbed me the wrong way.  Actually, none of the characters really spoke to me, especially not the college-age ones who only seemed to be interested in drinking, smoking pot and working on their tans.  Maybe that's true-to-life, but to me Ruth and her buddies acted like immature slackers.  So, yeah, the overreaching plot, plus the unappealing characters left me feeling pretty ambivalent about this one.  I didn't hate Saving Ruth, but I didn't love it either.  Overall, I'd have to say:  meh.    

(Readalikes:  Hm, I can't really think of anything.  Can you?)

Grade:  C

If this were a movie, it would be rated:  R for language, sexual content and depictions of underrage drinking and illegal drug use

To the FTC, with love:  I received a finished copy of Saving Ruth from the generous folks at William Morrow (an imprint of Harper Collins) and TLC Book Tours.  Thank you!    


  1. Hmmm, I have a hard time with MCs with eating disorders. I don't know why, it's just one of those conflict things I don't care for.

  2. Darn, sounds like this wasn't quite the right book for you. Hope your next read is a better fit!


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