Ruby’s mom Alice has died. Her friend Layla knows that Ruby’s dad Lebanon is abusive, and she’s suspicious that maybe he’s responsible for Alice’s death, only Layla’s dad Jackson, a church minister, wants her to have nothing to do with this. What Layla doesn’t know is that Jackson has a secret that binds him close to Lebanon and has led to some blackmail. And what just about any of the younger generation don’t know is that their grandmothers (Sara, Naomi, Violet) also have a secret, but with Naomi dead and Sara dying in a hospital, will they ever find out how this connects to the family legacies? West expertly juggles several characters here and really gives you a rich portrait of Chicago’s South Side. I don’t necessarily think West was intending to write a thriller, but I thought she did well with the mystery elements, offering twists and double twists that changed my perceptions of the characters and made the story hard to put down. I also really liked the way Catherine Adel West made the Church a character in the story, which reminded me of the church ladies functioning as the Greek chorus in Brit Bennett’s The Mothers. I imagine the church as a symbol of redemption, and sure enough it is the church that brings together at least one set of estranged characters. Saving Ruby King is an intensely satisfying reading experience. As the trade journals like to say, highly recommended for all collections!— Daniel Goldin
Named a Most Anticipated Book of 2020 by Ms. Magazine, USA Today Book Riot, The Rumpus, Library Journal, PureWow, The Every Girl, Parade and more.
"Forever and to the end. That's what they say instead of I love you."
When Ruby King's mother is found murdered in their home in Chicago's South Side, the police dismiss it as another act of violence in a black neighborhood. But for Ruby, it's a devastating loss that leaves her on her own with her violent father. While she receives many condolences, her best friend, Layla, is the only one who understands how this puts Ruby in jeopardy.
Their closeness is tested when Layla's father, the pastor of their church, demands that Layla stay away. But what is the price for turning a blind eye? In a relentless quest to save Ruby, Layla uncovers the murky loyalties and dangerous secrets that have bound their families together for generations. Only by facing this legacy of trauma head-on will Ruby be able to break free.
An unforgettable debut novel, Saving Ruby King is a powerful testament that history doesn't determine the present and the bonds of friendship can forever shape the future.