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2021 Literary Escapes Challenge

- Alabama
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My Progress:


28 / 51 states. 55% done!

2021 Fall Into Reading Challenge

My Progress:


0 / 24 books. 0% done!

2021 Children's Historical Fiction Reading Challenge

2021 Children's Historical Fiction Reading Challenge
(Hosted by Yours Truly!)

My Progress:


7 / 25 books. 28% done!

2021 Popsugar Reading Challenge

My Progress:


33 / 50 books. 66% done!

Booklist Queen's 2021 Reading Challenge

My Progress:


35 / 52 books. 67% done!

2021 Historical Fiction Reading Challenge

2021 Craving for Cozies Reading Challenge

The 52 Club's 2021 Reading Challenge

My Progress:


39 / 52 books. 75% done!
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!    

Mormon Mention: Zoe Fishman

I don't do Mormon Mentions all that often, so let me explain what this feature is all about.  As a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (commonly known as the LDS or Mormon Church), I'm naturally interested in how my religion is portrayed in the media.  So, every time I see my church mentioned in a book written by someone who is not of my faith, I mention it here, along with my thoughts on whatever the author has said.  It's my chance to clear up misconceptions, add an insider's perspective, and, often, just laugh at my sometimes crazy Mormon culture.

If you're not into this kind of post, feel free to skip it.  If you are, read on ...

This Mormon Mention comes from Saving Ruth by Zoe Fishman, an adult novel about a Jewish woman trying to conceal her eating disorder from her family and friends.  Toward the end of the book, she's at the beach with a date and is nervous about wearing her swimsuit in front of him.  Here's what happens:

He put his arm around me and pulled me to him.  I was keenly aware of his bare chest pressing against my tank top.  There was only so much longer that I could keep my shirt on without feeling like a Mormon (225).


This one made me laugh because it's so true, especially for people like me who are conservative even for Mormons!  Here's why, though:  LDS kids are taught from the time they are tiny that their bodies are temples— sacred gifts from God—and should be treated as such.  This is why we're told not to drink alcohol, smoke cigarettes, get tattoos, take illegal drugs or sleep around.  It's also why we're taught to dress modestly.  Boys and girls as well as men and women are encouraged not to wear clothing that is tight or revealing.  Swimsuits are allowed, of course, although it's suggested that we choose the most modest styles we can find.  It's not like you'd get excommunicated for strutting around in a bikini or wearing something slinky for an evening out, it's just very much discouraged.  Don't get me wrong—we're not required to drape ourselves in ugly, old-fashioned clothing that hides everything from our necks to our ankles.  Not at all.  We're just counseled to dress ourselves in clothes that are modest.

Now, you might be thinking that you've never heard of a notion so ridiculously prudish and outdated.  To that, I say, go inside any public school in this country and take a look at what kids are wearing.  Despite "rigid" dress codes, you'll see girls as young as 11 or 12 in skin-tight jeans, low-cut tops and teeny, tiny shorts.  Guys aren't as bad, but still, you can't walk through the halls without getting a flash of somebody's boxer-clad behind looming above a pair of saggy jeans.  Doesn't it bother you just a little bit that so many kids are strolling through the corridors looking like they belong on a street corner in Vegas?  And that's at school!  Worst of all, their parents let them out the door looking like that.  It's frightening.

Because of the whole modesty issue, I think LDS women are even more self-conscious than most about revealing their bodies in public.  Or maybe it's just me?  I don't think so, but you never know.  Regardless, I appreciate modest dress, especially here in blazing hot Arizona where people like to strut around wearing next to nothing.  I say, leave something (or how about everything?) to the imagination.  Please!

Whether you agree that "Modest is Hottest" or think the whole idea is rubbish of the vilest sort, it explains why the main character in the novel feels like a prudish Mormon (not that there's anything wrong with that, of course).

So, y'all, what are your thoughts on the subject?

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