- The Book of Ruth (novel)
infobox Book | < -- See Wikipedia:WikiProject_Novels or Wikipedia:WikiProject_Books -->
name = The Book of Ruth
orig title =
language = English
Ticknor and Fields
release_date = 1988
media_type = Print (
pages = 328 pp
isbn = ISBN 0-89919-744-2
"The Book of Ruth" (1988) is a novel by
Jane Hamilton. It won the Hemingway Foundation/PEN Awardfor a best first novel in 1988 and was the Oprah's Book Clubselection for November 1996.
A girl, Ruth, is growing up the small town of Honey Creek,
Illinois. All of her childhood, and most of her adult life, is spent wondering what would happen if she could get away. Her father, Elmer, left her family when she was nine, which makes her mother, May, very bitter. When she was younger, May dated a young, handsome Honey Creek man named Willard Jenson, and fell desperately in love with him. The two were married soon after, but Willard was called to war and he died during WWII, leaving May as a widow. May is extremely unhappy about Ruth, even in her childhood, because she is not like her brother, Matt. Matt is a year younger than Ruth and a genius, so he is allowed to skip a grade to be in the same class as Ruth. While Matt receives excellent grades, Ruth barely passes. Her teacher also discourages Ruth by asking why she is not like Matt.
Ruth is not very popular because of the way she dresses and for being so "dumb." Ruth is miserable for most of her childhood, but some of it is spent in the company of Mrs. Finch, a widowed old blind woman who she helps out. She soon develops a love for classic literature when she listens to audiotapes with Mrs. Finch after school.
Matt and Ruth both graduate from high school at the same time. Matt then moves to California to study the stars and planets while Ruth stays in Honey Creek with May. Ruth and May make two friends during this short time period: Deedee and her daughter Daisy.
One night, Ruth and Daisy decide to go out (Daisy is considered a "wild child" and also sort of a tramp-she has many boyfriends). They end up wading through the waters of a lake and "barrowing" a row boat. On this night, they meet Ruth's future husband, Ruby.
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