“There was a sudden burst of cold air between Ruby and Othella that they both felt on their faces; neither could understand what it meant. Ruby assumed that it was just because she was nervous and uncomfortable. Other than the fact that it was so odd and unexpected, Othella didn’t know what to think about the cold air on such a warm day. Neither one shared her thoughts about it, but they both experienced an ominous feeling because of it.”
The prose in Mary Monroe’s Mama Ruby unfortunately doesn’t get better than that.
Mama Ruby was available from my library’s Kindle collection, and I like historical fiction, so I thought I’d give it a shot. Unfortunately, I was disappointed. The book is easy to read, but that’s about all it’s got going for it. I honestly am astounded that this book got published in its current state — and that it has such high ratings, with an apparently rabid following.
There are so many problems throughout the book. Each chapter ends with clumsy foreshadowing, and the next repeats that scenario in the first few paragraphs — as if the author is concerned that readers would forget the plot after a page. It’s lascivious, with loving detail lavished on descriptions of bodily fluids and people beating one another. No character ever just says something; in every statement, they declare, they holler, they scream, they mutter threats while rolling their eyes at one another. And the plot is simply unbelievable: Ruby’s a teen who hides her pregnancy and gives up the baby, then is a prostitute, then murders her bootlegging husband, and then she steals a baby.
But the part that made me laugh out loud was when Ruby offers to cook some greens in a Crock-Pot. The setting is WWII. Hint: They were first manufactured in 1970.
But then… It just ends. All the loose ends are just left hanging. Apparently Monroe got tired, or hit a deadline.
All in all, Mama Ruby reads like a half-finished rough draft. At least it still counts toward my goal!