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The Book of Ruth
In The Book of Ruth, we move away from Chicago and into small town northern Illinois. The setting seems to be the 1970s, but really, the story is timeless. Hamilton depicts the life of a down and out, common, poor girl, Ruth: a girl with a mean mother and without a role model to help her rise up from her poverty-stricken situation.
Despite self-talk of stupidy, Ruth, who is our narrator, writes eloquently. She devours audio-books, especially Dickens, when she keeps her blind neighbor company, yet she fails all her subjects in school. She is low and without guidance, and as a result lives the only life she feels she is capable of living: working at the town dry cleaner, finding her glory on the bowling team, and marrying a toothless man she fell in love with when she found him drinking beer, lounging in an inner tube in the middle of the lake.
Ruth is an innocent, and a bad life happens to her. This book could be set anywhere — the corn and the winters put it in Illinois — and it is a story of how difficult it is to break out of what we are born into. Ruth manages to maintain a raw hope, and innocent love, in the face of a life that would break most of us.
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