Saving Ruth, by Zoe Fishman

I admit one of the first things that drew me to this book, besides that pretty awesome cover, is the fact that it's set in Alabama.  There are not a whole lot of novels set here in my state, so when I see one that is, I immediately want to check it out. 

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!

**I received a copy of this book from the publisher and TLC Book Tours.  All opinions expressed are my own.


  1. I totally understand your interest in reading this book because it's set in your home state of Alabama. I have a bias towards books set in NYC and, even more, Brooklyn. I almost always have to read up on a book once I know it's set where I live.

    I read this book and so I appreciate reading in your review that Zoe Fishman's portrayal of small-town life in Alabama is spot on. I thought Ms. Fishman successfully explored some heavy issues without getting too bogged down in them and showed how a family can come together to overcome their problems.
    It's interesting to see how Ruth finds her home town after she spent a year at a large university in a very different state.

    I enjoyed your review and I'm glad you liked Saving Ruth, too!

  2. I can totally relate to your wanting to read local books that "get it right" - it's so fun when an author actually accomplishes that!

    Thanks for being on the tour. I'm featuring your review on TLC's Facebook page today.


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