The Little Way of Ruthie Leming: A Southern Girl, a Small Town, and the Secret of a Good Life

The Little Way of Ruthie Leming: A Southern Girl, a Small Town, and the Secret of a Good Life

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The Little Way of Ruthie Leming: A Southern Girl, a Small Town, and the Secret of a Good Life by Rod Dreher, Lois Ruth Leming

THE LITTLE WAY OF RUTHIE LEMING follows Rod Dreher, a Philadelphia journalist, back to his hometown of St. Francisville, Louisiana (pop. 1,700) in the wake of his younger sister Ruthie's death. When she was diagnosed at age 40 with a virulent form of cancer in 2010, Dreher was moved by the way the community he had left behind rallied around his dying sister, a schoolteacher. He was also struck by the grace and courage with which his sister dealt with the disease that eventually took her life. In Louisiana for Ruthie's funeral in the fall of 2011, Dreher began to wonder whether the ordinary life Ruthie led in their country town was in fact a path of hidden grandeur, even spiritual greatness, concealed within the modest life of a mother and teacher. In order to explore this revelation, Dreher and his wife decided to leave Philadelphia, move home to help with family responsibilities and have their three children grow up amidst the rituals that had defined his family for five generations-Mardi Gras, L.S.U. football games, and deer hunting.
As David Brooks poignantly described Dreher's journey homeward in a recent New York Times column, Dreher and his wife Julie "decided to accept the limitations of small-town life in exchange for the privilege of being part of a community."

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781455521890
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
Publication date: 04/15/2014
Pages: 304
Sales rank: 199,480
Product dimensions: 5.90(w) x 8.80(h) x 0.90(d)

About the Author

Rod Dreher has been an editorial writer and columnist for the Dallas Morning News, a film critic for the New York Post and currently writes for The American Conservative. He currently lives in St. Francisville, Louisiana with his wife Julie and his three children. This is his second book; his first was Crunchy Cons: How Birkenstocked Burkeans, Gun-Loving Organic Gardeners, Evangelical Free-Range Farmers, Hip Homeschooling Mamas, Right-Wing Nature Lovers, and Their Diverse Tribe of Countercultural Conservatives Plan to Save America (or At Least the Republican Party).

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The Little Way of Ruthie Leming: A Southern Girl, a Small Town, and the Secret of a Good Life 4.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 20 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Sorry for your loss. Your story was beautifully  written, and I am sure your sister loved you very much. Thank you for sharing your story with us. So many spend their whole life in a small town and never understand there is a whole big world  out there.   
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Mrs. Ruthie was a vey close friend to my family i will never forget when she died i came home from school and my mom had been crying she handed ma the phone it was a close friend who told me i remember at her funral we all took our shoes off because it wad "her thing" please read truely heart felt story
Pauli_1967 More than 1 year ago
This is a complicated book, and not so much about death and bereavement as one would expect. There's a reason that William Young blurbed this book as a memoir. A memoir is understood to be autobiographical, and this book is mostly so. However there are several interesting passages, and even some laugh-out-loud funny parts made at the author's expense. If someone wishes to understand the continuing development of the author's patchwork political ideology this is a great book. Otherwise time is better spent elsewhere. Also there is a lot of religious discussion in the book which is only obliquely related to the death of the author's sister. The first part of the book introduces Ruthie as the wildly popular, outgoing, tomboy sister of the author who, being the opposite was withdrawn, bookish and hung out with his spinster aunts and their cats. He was unpopular in school, and kids were mean to him. Reading between the lines, one can discern that he earned at least some of this mistreatment in the vein of "Harriet the Spy". Ruthie eventually became the homecoming queen and had a steady boyfriend pretty early on, getting married soon after school. The author couldn't wait to shake the dust of the town off his heels and move somewhere where people appreciated him more than his family and the benighted townsfolk. The second part discusses Ruthie's sudden illness which the inept town doctor misdiagnoses as an allergy when really it was an aggressive form of lung cancer. Of course this was devastating to their young family with three children and her parents. The author is amazed at how the town rallies around them to help the family with moral and monetary support. This amazement was strange to me; this sort of community support for young victims of deadly illnesses is pretty normal to most people. He expresses the same awe at the size of her funeral, bemoaning his lack of a "deep bench" should he meet his demise in the city where he and his family didn't have as many friends. But it's pretty obvious from any close reading that his funeral wouldn't be as well attended as his sister's even in their hometown. The strangest parts of the book center on the author's attempt to square his supposed belief in his sister's sainthood with her bad treatment of himself and his family. Some of these are in the form of discussions with his teenage niece on a vacation they took in Paris together, just the two of them, after her mother's death. Amid their conversations, she lets it slip that he should give up trying to get closer to her younger sisters since her mother had conspired with her parents for years to badmouth him around her children, sowing distrust and dislike in her family for the author's family. This revelation incenses him and he expresses his anger in strong terms to his niece who becomes upset and regrets revealing this troubling fact. Something struck me at that point. The author asserts that his sister is a saint time and again, but it is highly possible that he is primarily trying to convince his readers--and perhaps himself--that he believes this. She was a good teacher who was loved by students, and a good wife and mother. But she was also mean and vindictive to her brother her entire life, never forgave him for slights, and was generally bigoted about anyone who was wealthy or lived in "the big city". She hardly struggled against any of these tendencies, and she spent most of her illness in denial and fear. The last words she uttered were "I'm scared!" right before she died. Her religious practice was mostly ephemeral and therapeutic, and she openly mocked her brother for having a deeper faith and devotion to God. Surely the author's own definition of "saint" can scarcely be applied to her.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I read this on my Nook -- and did so because I admire Mr Dreher political columns, and the topic of this work, his sister's battle with cancer, and his returning to his hometown seemed an important one. Mr. Dreher is an excellent writer, who can create believable and touching dialogue. I read it through, wishing he had not talked so much about his own issues.
jbm More than 1 year ago
Ilovemister More than 1 year ago
This was a beautiful story. It paralleled mine but fortunately we didn't have cancer in our dynamic. I am so sorry for your loss. She was a beautiful lady. I hope her kids and husband are doing ok. It was heartbreaking. There truly is something to be said about your home towns and small town living. People are there for you and look out for each other. Only someone from a small town can identify with this. God bless you all.
SarahRN More than 1 year ago
I received this book as an ARC in exchange for an honest review. The Little Way of Ruthie Leming: A Southern Girl, a Small Town, and the Secret of a Good Life written and narrated by Rod Dreher is a story about a family who lives in a small Louisiana town and believes that there is no better life than what is available in their town. Rod is portrayed throughout this story as the outsider. He is not happy staying in his home town and seeks out school and career opportunities outside St. Francisville, LA. The relationship between him and his family becomes strained due to his decision not to return to St. Francisville. This only alienates him further. At the age of 40, his sister, Ruthie, is diagnosed with cancer. Ruthie uses her faith, friends, and family to support her during this time. Rod is moved by the community involvement and decides to return to St. Frnacisville. After his return, they family has to face the previously avoided awkwardness and alienation in their relationships. This proves to be more difficult than they had expected. This story is not just a story about a southern girl in a small town but about the intricacies of relationships, friendship, and love. It is about supporting not just your family but your friends and neighbors and reminds us that we do not always know the story and hardship others may have faced.
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YoyoMitch More than 1 year ago
The reader knows Ruthie Lemming is a special kind of person form the first paragraphs of this memoir. She possessed a unique kind of Grace, acceptance and compassion that made everyone who met her feel welcomed, important and included.  In the Southeastern Louisiana town of West Feliciana, a town that “suffers no lack of kind people” she was “possibly the kindest person many (in that town) had ever met” (p.2).  Mr. Dreher, Ruthie’s brother uses his memories and interviews with other of Ms. Lemming’s family members and friends to show just how wonderful she was. By the end of the book, I felt such a connection with this woman that calling her anything but “Ruthie” would seem a betrayal of a friend. Ruthie and her brother were as opposite as could siblings ever be.  He enjoys reading, deep discussions, Spiritual reflection, intellectual pursuits and he left home when he was 17.  She loved the outdoors, chatting with people, hunting & fishing, accepted that God existed & loved her and lived all of her 42 years in the community into which she was born. They loved each other deeply and unabashedly but were not always friends.  Mr. Dreher cannot grasp why his “saint’ (p.248) of a sister held regularly him is such disdain and was so readily judged him without the Grace she so easily gave to others. Ruthie is diagnosed with a virulent form of Lung Cancer when she was 41 (by the time it was discovered, she was at stage IV, with a life expectancy of six weeks to three months, she survived 19 months).  The author visited her, from his home in New York, as frequently as possible but he quickly realized living “away” and, before Ruthie’s illness, usually only seeing his family 3 weeks a year, “if we were lucky,” was not enough to repair his and Ruthie’s relationship.  This book is one of hope, redemption and living, it is not a book about death or grief.  What he does to find forgiveness and peace with his sister makes up the last 25% of the books’ volume but it is the most powerful section of a very moving read.  Mr. Dreher’s openness in sharing his experience of learning the deep Spiritual truth that Love and rejection can be held with equal tension within a relationship is a worth the cost of reading this book.  This mystery can only be experienced – not explained nor completely understood – and accepted; the author allows the readers to see his struggle in all its pain, confusion and resolution. There is no violence, sex or profanity to be found in these pages of this book.  There is sadness, grief, joy, laughter, conflict, revelation and moments of such existential intimacy that they seem to be voyeuristic throughout the book.  Have a dry hankie or a fresh box of tissues as you read of Ruthie’s illness.  Most of the tears I shed were in response to the kindness, generosity and compassion shown to, and by, Ruthie.  “The little way” of Ruthie Lemming was revealed to be the power of connection.  She touched people on a level that was easily recognized as their “self” and those lucky folks found acceptance as and where they were in that relationship.  One of the fruits of such connection is shown to be the hope that we can so freely give to each other and just as freely receive.  
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
mzpez More than 1 year ago
This book was moving, insightful and just plain excellent!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is probably more about the spiritual journey of the author than his sister, Ruthie. It is insightful and helps you consider what is important in life. They took different paths, but who can say one was right and the other wrong? Read it for yourself and decide.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This true story of love and loss and the deep, yet complicated, ties of family was so eloquently written! I shed tears through various parts of the story, but it was cathartic because it touched me in ways that I identified I think any reader would. I consider the reading of this book a spriritual gift.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I really enjoyed this book and already recomended it to others.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I truly enjoyed the journey to appreciate the simple and good things in life,