Book Review: Ruined

Ruined imageMy review of Ruined, a memoir authored by Ruth Everhart

“It happened . . .”

With those two words, Ruth Everhart launches the story of the horrific “it” that happened to her — a night of violence, sexual assault and fear that challenged her faith and upended her imagined future. She invites the reader into a tale that is part memoir and part mystery. Will “Ruined” be the final word? Or will a more redemptive judgment claim her?

A peek at the table of contents hints at how her story will unfold. The book is organized into five parts: The Crime, the Aftermath, the Courts, the Fallout, the Future. Significant life events will define the passages from one to the next. Progress will be made. The future will be open-ended. Each section is prefaced with a Bible passage and a quote from a secular source. Will the sacred or the secular become more influential voice in her life?

Traveling with Ruth as she grows into young adulthood was often a trip that flew by. At other times, I found myself squirming and wondering, “Are we there yet?”  Her storytelling is consistent with the pace how life goes: sometimes she is stuck; sometimes, she is making progress. What answers there are do not come to the reader any more quickly than they appeared to her in her real-life quest for remedy.

Ruth’s courageously descriptive writing drew me into her memoir in a surprisingly personal way. We have many obvious things in common: female, baby-boomer, clergy. Telling her own story, Ruth reveals me, too: a little girl in church frustrated by unanswered questions; a college student assaulted; a survivor attempting to recover from a bad scene by making an unhealthy choice or two; a woman in love; a mother of daughters. Where our stories diverged, I felt invited to journey with her down unfamiliar roads, anticipating the scene around the next turn. I found myself enthusiastically and impatiently rooting for her to discover the happiest of happy endings!

My favorite part of the book was the Epilogue, “A Letter to My Daughters.” There, the reader will finally find Ruth’s motivation for writing the book and its intended purpose. There, to the extent that a life in progress can be assessed, her outcome is revealed.

A word to describe myself after reading this book: “Satisfied!”

I was given an advance reader’s copy of the book in exchange for my honest review.

Title: Ruined
Author: Ruth Everhart
Publisher: Carol Stream, Illinois: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., 2016

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