Paperback: 360 pages
Publisher: Lake Union Publishing (March 17, 2015)
When Ruby Clare’s father was alive, they happily toiled together on their small dairy farm in Northern Ireland. Since his death seven months ago, Ruby—thirty-three years old, plain, and plump—has become a veritable drudge for Martha, her endlessly critical mother. Then comes the day when Ruby finds her late grandmother’s old suitcase in the attic. Among its strange contents: a slim, handmade volume called The Book of Light.
The deeper Ruby delves into its mysterious pages, the more confident she feels. But Martha, convinced that her newly empowered daughter must be possessed, enlists the help of psychiatrist Henry Shevlin. Henry is unflappable on the surface, yet inwardly he’s reeling from his wife’s unexplained disappearance the year before. As Ruby undergoes therapy alongside other local patients, including lonely bachelor farmer Jamie McCloone, all their lives intersect in unexpected ways. And Ruby, alone for so long, finds the courage to connect—with Jamie, with Henry, and with her own loving, indomitable spirit.
Ruby Clare is at a crossroads, unsure where her life will go. After losing her father, she's stuck taking care of a mother who seems to want nothing more than to ruin her own daughter's life. Then, Ruby finds a book among her grandmother's things in the attic. This book might hold the key to Ruby taking control of her life.
As she explores her inner strength, and experiments with her grandmother's ways, many secrets are revealed. Will she be strong enough to come out on the other end a better person?
From page one, I was captivated by Ruby's story. She was hurting and lost, not sure where she fit in in the world. Her father had supported her, and he was gone; he left her with a hyper-critical mother and little hope for the future. When she does start standing up for herself, her mother threatens to have Ruby committed. That's when she meets Henry Shevlin, a psychiatrist with her own story and secrets.
Henry's story is interesting, but it took me a while to get into the alternating point of views and stories being told. Too often, the transition between the two seemed abrupt. Plus, the two stories felt too separate and disconnected. Then there was Jamie, a character who could offer Ruby so much. Unfortunately, his story felt rushed and his connection with Ruby not given enough attention. And I wanted more insight into her grandmother--that storyline wrapped up too quickly.
All in all, I found myself engaged and interested. I just wish more focus had been on Ruby, because I adored her story.
Rating: 4 stars
About Christina McKenna
Christina McKenna grew up on a farm near the village of Draperstown in Northern Ireland. She attended the Belfast College of Art, where she obtained an honors degree in fine art and studied English in postgraduate studies at the University of Ulster. In 1986, she left Northern Ireland to work abroad. She has lived, worked, and painted pictures in Spain, Turkey, Italy, Ecuador, and Mexico.
Thanks to TLC for my review copy.
Note: I received a complimentary copy for review purposes. A positive review was not requested or guaranteed; the opinions expressed are my own.
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