Friday, July 1, 2011

Drowning Ruth, the debut novel by Christina Schwarz, is one of the first books that I have truly enjoyed in a long time.  I was not reading it to pass time or because I am an obsessive reader.  In fact, I feel pulled to read it again to fully savor the effects of this tale.

It is a simple story of complex characters.  The main character is Amanda, and we follow her very closely.  We take jaunts into her niece, Ruth's, mind, and occasionally the narrator will allow glimpses of Ruth's father, Carl, but Amanda becomes the one we sympathize, question, and endure.  These small town folks are all tied together by one person, Mathilda... sister, mother, wife.  It is her drowning that creates the story. 

With Mathilda's drowning being the central event, we are immediately pulled in by the first line: "Ruth remembered drowning."  Even the title suggests that this is Ruth's story.  Immediately we are asking: who, what, how?

This tale jumps in and out of time frames, character's perspectives, mystery and mundane - but this is part of the story's charm.  We are acquainted with the events on the lake, and Amanda, slowly as we would learn of them here in our everyday world.  We are pulled in bit by bit. 

Ms. Schwarz uses elements of a thriller in this novel.  Yet it is not gory, scary, or very dark.  It is well-written, tightly woven, and easy to read.  It has us asking questions and changing our minds and aligning ourselves with the characters despite their flaws.

There is one line that I was afraid would lead somewhere I didn't want to go, but I was pleasantly relieved.  I highly recommend this book.  
Now, I am seriously reading three books at the same time:



What are you reading... and where are you reading it?


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