Sav­ing Ruth

  • Review
By – April 16, 2012
When Ruth Wasser­man returns home to her small Alaba­ma town after spend­ing her fresh­man year at the Uni­ver­si­ty of Michi­gan, the first thing every­one notices is how skin­ny she looks. Hid­ing her anorex­ia from her fam­i­ly and friends while life­guard­ing at the local pool is a big enough chal­lenge but Ruth is also try­ing to fig­ure out what’s going on with her old­er broth­er David, the once pop­u­lar and socia­ble soc­cer star who now spends most of his time smok­ing pot and avoid­ing every­one. Ruth nev­er felt like she fit in and always blamed her weight and being one of the few Jew­ish kids in her town. But, when an African-Amer­i­can girl near­ly drowns while Ruth and David are life­guard­ing, every­thing comes to a head and Ruth and David’s secrets are exposed. While Ruth’s eat­ing dis­or­der is per­haps the cen­tral theme, Fish­man also throws in issues of race and reli­gion, inter-faith dat­ing, drug and alco­hol abuse, and sib­ling rela­tions. With a less skilled writer, all this could bog down a nov­el but Fish­man achieves the right bal­ance, and cou­pled with well devel­oped, lik­able, and three-dimen­sion­al char­ac­ters, the sto­ry stays focused and com­pelling. High school read­ers, espe­cial­ly girls, will be attract­ed to the cov­er-art and will eas­i­ly relate to Ruth as a young woman strug­gling to fig­ure out who she is and who she wants to become. Rec­om­mend­ed for ages 15 and up.

Rachel Kamin has been a syn­a­gogue librar­i­an and Jew­ish edu­ca­tor for over twen­ty-five years and has worked at North Sub­ur­ban Syn­a­gogue Beth El in High­land Park, IL since 2008, cur­rent­ly serv­ing as the Direc­tor of Life­long Learn­ing. A past chair of the Syd­ney Tay­lor Book Award Com­mit­tee and past edi­tor of Book Reviews for Chil­dren & Teens for the Asso­ci­a­tion of Jew­ish Libraries News & Reviews, her arti­cles and book reviews appear in numer­ous pub­li­ca­tions. She has been a mem­ber of the Amer­i­can Library Association’s Sophie Brody Book Award Com­mit­tee since 2021.

Discussion Questions