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Saving Ruth: A Novel

Saving Ruth: A Novel

4.5 2
by Zoe Fishman

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A wonderful coming-of-age novel from Zoe Fishman, author of Balancing Acts, Saving Ruth tells the story of a fish-out-of-water young Jewish woman, returning to her Alabama hometown after a semester at a “Yankee college,” only to discover that life—and she, herself—haven’t really changed in the ways she’d hoped.


A wonderful coming-of-age novel from Zoe Fishman, author of Balancing Acts, Saving Ruth tells the story of a fish-out-of-water young Jewish woman, returning to her Alabama hometown after a semester at a “Yankee college,” only to discover that life—and she, herself—haven’t really changed in the ways she’d hoped. Southern fiction with a pungent twist, Saving Ruth is a wonderfully evocative, delightfully engaging tale that, nonetheless, seriously addresses provocative issues like anorexia, family dynamics, and the racial and ethnic tensions of the Deep South.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Most teens pack on the dreaded “freshman fifteen” their first year at college, but 19-year-old Ruth’s first year triggers an eating disorder that turns the likable smart-aleck pudge into a rail-thin introvert—and unlikely hero. Ruth’s agonizing personal crisis comes to a head during her summer break. “I’m scared of food... scared that I’ll gain weight,” she finally confesses to a nine-year-old girl who idolizes her. Still, Ruth manages to find romance with her brother’s best friend Chris, who sees beyond her delusions. As Ruth battles her demons, her parents struggle with an empty nest and a stale relationship, while “golden child” brother David, guarding a troubling secret, grows weary under the weight of others’ expectations. Ruth and David also face simmering racial and anti-Semitic tensions in their modern-day Southern town—insidious prejudices that rear their heads when Ruth saves a black child who nearly drowns at the pool where Ruth and David are lifeguards. Fishman (Balancing Acts) deftly works a small love story around larger themes of loyalty, courage, and social justice, turning what begins as adolescent angst into a touching bildungsroman. Agent: Mollie Glick, Foundry Literary. (May)
Library Journal
After going off to college as a slightly overweight young Jewish woman from the South who lived in the shadow of a golden older brother, Ruth Wasserman returns for summer break anorexic and uncertain. Puzzled by her brother's emotional distance and frustrated by her anxious parents, she is happiest at the local pool coaching young swimmers and lifeguarding. Oddly enough, even that respite is shattered when Ruth, rather than her brother, saves a young girl from drowning. Instead of being a hero, she becomes the holder of secrets and the potential target of a lawsuit. And to top it all off, Ruth is falling for her brother's best friend. She could crumble under the tension of competing loyalties, but she's made of sterner stuff and capable of loving her family enough to see them through a crisis or two. VERDICT Ruth is a likable character facing realistic trials, and her story will appeal to both mothers and college-age daughters. Author interview and book club questions are added bonuses; Fishman is also the author of Balancing Acts.—Jan Blodgett, Davidson Coll. Lib., NC
Kirkus Reviews
Home after the first year at college--can you keep your secrets hidden? In Fishman's (Balancing Acts, 2010) latest, Ruth Wasserman returns home to Alabama to resume lifeguarding and coaching at the local pool with her brother David. Ruth's friends and family marvel at her freshly skinny body and even ask her to help a neighborhood girl lose weight. A soccer phenom, David has always been the golden child in the Wasserman family. But Ruth and David have secrets. At the pool one day, tragedy strikes: A little girl slips under the water. She is in David's blind spot, but Ruth leaps into the water, saving the child. What might have been a happy ending quickly unravels into accusations of racism, a threatened lawsuit and an increasingly inscrutable David. Meanwhile, Ruth begins a romance with Chris, one of David's friends. Swim meets are lost and won. The racism and antisemitism Ruth didn't notice before becomes clear. The board members strategize to avoid the lawsuit. But Ruth is becoming increasingly suspicious of David. Rumors swirl about his alleged use of drugs, and perhaps he has even dropped out of college. The golden child might not be so golden after all. While the sibling code of silence urges Ruth to keep David's secrets, she wants to know the truth from his own mouth. David has his own suspicions about Ruth's dramatic weight loss and her new, strange relationship with food. Even Chris notices that she brushes her tummy as if she were trying to brush it off her body. Trouble looms on the horizon, and soon all the beans will be spilled. Conflicts and secrets abound, yet the tension doesn't quite build, so the eruption of the final crisis seems abrupt and the resolution far too easy.

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HarperCollins Publishers
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5.36(w) x 7.80(h) x 0.76(d)

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Meet the Author

Zoe Fishman is the author of Driving Lessons, Saving Ruth, and Balancing Acts. Her books have been translated into German, Italian, Dutch and Polish. She’s the recipient of many awards, including Target’s Breakout and Emerging Author Picks, a New York Post Pick, and has been featured on NBC’s “Atlanta & Co.” as well as in Publishers Weekly and The Huffington Post. She is currently at work on her next novel, as well as teaching writing at The Callanwolde Fine Arts Center. Zoe lives in Atlanta with her husband and two sons.

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Saving Ruth 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Go to fish result 13. Sophies Fish. Im a boy so only girls welcome!!!