Saving Ruby King: A Novel
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Saving Ruby King: A Novel Audible Audiobook – Unabridged

4.4 out of 5 stars 222 ratings

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Product details

Listening Length 10 hours and 14 minutes
Author Catherine Adel West
Narrator Kim Staunton, Imani Parks, Ron Butler, Adam Lazarre-White, Lloyd Roberson II, Terra Strong Lyons
Whispersync for Voice Ready Release Date 16 June 2020
Publisher Harlequin Audio
Program Type Audiobook
Version Unabridged
Language English
Best Sellers Rank 120,507 in Audible Books & Originals (See Top 100 in Audible Books & Originals)
314 in Black & African American Historical Fiction (Books)
2,036 in Family Life Fiction (Audible Books & Originals)
4,943 in Literary Fiction (Audible Books & Originals)

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4.4 out of 5 stars
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5.0 out of 5 stars Important and Relevant -- Best Book of 2020!
Reviewed in the United States on 4 August 2020
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5.0 out of 5 stars Important and Relevant -- Best Book of 2020!
Reviewed in the United States on 4 August 2020
Chicago is a complicated and dangerous place, and no one knows that better than Ruby King, the protagonist of debut author Catherine Adel West’s Saving Ruby King. On second thought, maybe West herself knows the city better, since she was born and raised there, and graduated with both her BA and MA from nearby University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. Following the adage to ‘write what you know,’ West doesn’t need to stretch beyond a couple of blocks to convince the reader that not only is she comfortable with the physical landscape but knows the societal landscape, as well. The novel, on several lists of highly anticipated 2020 books, delivers on many levels.
Using a series of rotating narrators, West tells the story of two Black families bound together by their pasts in such an intricate way that it’s impossible to not share the pain each family member has endured with the others whose lives they share. The narrative begins with Ruby’s mother Alice’s murder, then the stories take on separate threads, all with dark lives of their own. Ruby’s tale is wound through her father’s, Lebanon King, a brutal man with his own horrific childhood. He’s a perfect psychological specimen, proof of what happens when children are denied their own mother’s love. Layla, Ruby’s best friend, is a protective sister, wanting only to rescue Ruby from her father, a man completely unlike her own father (Jackson, a community pastor) yet the men are best friends. Jackson’s relationship with Lebanon is complicated, at best, a friendship built on the ties their mothers shared (the mean-spirited Sara, who never wanted her son Lebanon and spent her life telling him so, and Jackson’s mother, the sweet, strong soul who rules her family with a velvet fist and defends her friend Sara against all who’d disparage her). Each of the generations has secrets between them and unraveling them is a skill for a seasoned professional. West takes on the task presented by each of the sub-plots and plumbs them to their fullest depth, creating deep dips into the human psyche, as well as thoughtful forays into intergenerational trauma, racial injustices, and religious communities.
Though these families are fascinating and worthy of individual novels that explore each painful and complicated life, it is the voice of the Calvary Baptist Church that is the glue holding these lives together. The church has seen the little girls—Ruby and Layla—becoming friends, forming an unshakeable bond that no blood member of these families is able to sever. The church is witness to the abuse Lebanon heaped on his long-suffering wife, Alice. The church knows why the relationship Lebanon and Jackson share has become violent. The church knows all the secrets, and it is the place all the characters retreat for some comfort. Adding this point-of-view was a stroke of authorial brilliance, and it provides a type of spider’s web that structures this rather fragile story.
Yes, this story is timely, and the South Side of Chicago setting is central to America’s understanding of racial boundaries, but this novel would have risen to the top of my need-to-read list no matter what. When I put time and energy into reading a difficult story, the emotional payoff has to be an appreciation for language. As a writer myself, I love what we can do with words, and West’s writing is clear, lyrical, and powerful. She builds the story’s setting in such a way that it becomes human, with flesh and blood, and visceral responses to pain and love. Each character is recognizable, nuanced, and fraught with human faults. The structure of overlapping points of view not only holds your attention, but also enables us to see the tenuous ways each character is embroidered into the others’ lives. Saving Ruby King is an important, relevant, and well-written piece of fiction, that works on many different literary levels, and West’s ability to probe the painful points of the characters’ internal lives reveals a skill that will keep her books on my bedside stand for a long time.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Unforgettable Story
Reviewed in the United States on 22 June 2020
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5.0 out of 5 stars I loved this book!!!
Reviewed in the United States on 26 June 2020
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Taylor and Destinee Schriner
5.0 out of 5 stars An amazing story
Reviewed in the United States on 19 June 2020
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J. Medina
5.0 out of 5 stars A must read, excellent thriller not to be passed up.
Reviewed in the United States on 24 July 2020
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