Sometimes the stereotypes and very overdone southern drawl imply that an author may not actually have much familiarity with Alabama--or worse, with the South in general. Thankfully, that is not the case with Saving Ruth. According to Zoe Fishman's website, she grew up in Mobile, Alabama and now lives in Atlanta, Georgia. Fishman's familiarity with this region allows her to give a spot-on portrayal of life in a small Alabama town.
In the book, Ruth returns home to Alabama after her freshman year of college in Michigan. She finds some things to be very different than they were when she left, although still more things are exactly the same. During her summer at home, Ruth discovers new things about her family, her friends, and her hometown, and finally confronts a few things she has refused to acknowledge about herself. Saving Ruth touches on several hot-button topics: eating disorders, depression, and racial tensions. Amazingly, though, the book never feels preachy or too serious.
I enjoyed this book quite a bit, and would recommend it to anyone looking for a summer read that is much more than fluff, without being too heavy on the dramatics.
Bonus Factor: Nostalgia
Ruth and her brother David lifeguard at the community pool, just as they have done for several past summers. And oh my word, the description of the pool brought back a ton of memories of my own small town community pool. Ruth talks about the kids' favorite foods from the pool snack bar and I could practically taste the hot fries, corn chips, and Grapico that were so popular among my friends 20 years ago. Just as Ruth describes, I remember the kids that came as soon as the pool opened in the morning and left at closing each night. One mention of the bathrooms/changing rooms, and I was right back in the old, perpetually damp, dark locker rooms at our pool. I could almost smell the mildew.
The little walk down the community pool memory lane was fun, and an appropriate start to a summer during which I plan to take my girls to that very same pool for the first time!
TLC Book Tours. All opinions expressed are my own.