by Helen Dunmore

February 2005
ISBN: 0-425-20019-1
Reviewer Graphic Button Berkley
Trade Paperback

For years Rebecca cleaves to the tale of her entrance in this world as a point of reference. The events that started her journey in this maze called life were out of her control and yet they were paramount to the direction of her path. The ‘what-ifs’ become a ghost that haunts Rebecca causing her to feel incomplete.

Children learn socialization within the structure of family life. Rebecca didn’t have that foundation and must wait until she is an adult to create her own family with her friend Joe. There is a certain amount of security in her relationship with him. It is purely platonic and brotherly, thereby, Rebecca has what she craved most: a family. Her world is stable until people start to pervade her little circle of normalcy. She is resistant at first, but soon succumbs to the foreign emotion of romantic love with Joe’s friend, Adam. Rebecca’s family experience steps up a level with the birth of a baby girl. Rebecca finally has a blood bond with another human being.

Tragedy strikes Rebecca and Adam with brutal force through the loss of their daughter. The life Rebecca expected becomes a distant dream. Loss begets loss in a series of unfortunate events. Torn apart by their suffering, she and Adam separate. The oppressive task of surviving heartache while trying to live day to day is their objective and in turn, their relationship is lost in the mire.

Sometimes a person must step back to truly see what they possess. Rebecca, Adam, Ruby and Joe are forever linked. Life turns full circle and brings the adults once more into a translation of family.

Mourning Ruby reads like an intimate conversation and the reader may feel uncomfortable at times with being privy to such personal information. The reflections seem disjointed occasionally the same as our own thoughts shift from moment to moment. Author Helen Dunmore takes the reader into the life of a woman and allows us to make friends with Rebecca. By the end of Mourning Ruby the reader may forget that the heroine is a fictional character.

This is not a romance novel. It is the study of a life and the paradox of solitude and the communal need to have others in our lives with whom we can relate mutually. If you are looking for a book that will have you coming away with more than you brought to it, then choose Mourning Ruby by Helen Dunmore.

Reviewed in March 2005 by Rho.

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