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Zoe Fishman Discusses Saving Ruth

  Broadcast in Books

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Join Book Club Girl as she welcomes Zoe Fishman, author of Balancing Acts, to discuss her second novel, Saving Ruth, a wonderful coming-of-age novel that tells the story of a fish-out-of-water young Jewish woman, returning to her Alabama hometown after a semester at a “Yankee college,” only to discover that life—and she, herself—haven’t really changed in the ways she’d hoped. Southern fiction with a pungent twist, Saving Ruth is a wonderfully evocative, delightfully engaging tale that, nonetheless, seriously addresses provocative issues like anorexia, family dynamics, and the racial and ethnic tensions of the Deep South.

When Ruth returns home to the South for the summer after her freshman year at college, a near tragedy pushes her to uncover family truths and take a good look at the woman she wants to become.

Growing up in Alabama, all Ruth Wasserman wanted was to be a blond Baptist cheerleader. But as a curly-haired Jew with a rampant sweet tooth and a smart mouth, this was an impossible dream. Not helping the situation was her older brother, David—a soccer star whose good looks, smarts, and popularity reigned at school and at home. College provided an escape route and Ruth took it.

Now home for the summer, she's back lifeguarding and coaching alongside David, and although the job is the same, nothing else is. She's a prisoner of her low self-esteem and unhealthy relationship with food, David is closed off and distant in a way he's never been before, and their parents are struggling with the reality of an empty nest. When a near drowning happens on their watch, a storm of repercussions forces Ruth and David to confront long-ignored truths about their town, their family, and themselves.

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