Thursday, August 27, 2015

Ruby, a Novel by Karen Robbins

Back Cover Blurb
Love found. Faith found. But will the war destroy it all or will the secrets kept destroy love and faith?
Hope Morgan has always had difficulty understanding her mother, Ruby. Now as illness threatens to take her mother’s life she discovers that her family history is not what she thought. Ruby begins to reveal secrets that have been kept for generations.

Who was Edward Fields in her mother’s life, Hope wonders, and why has she kept his letters for so many years? What was the butterfly love story they shared? And did Hope’s father, George know about it?
While Ruby weathered the Great Depression as a child and the sorrows of World War II as a young bride, her faith grew and the promises Edward shared with her gave her strength to see her through. Will she have the strength to finally reveal the last secret she holds?

Read an Excerpt:

Spring, 1932

The bang of a heavy school door recoiling on its hinges scattered a flock of birds who chirped their displeasure at the disruption of the mid-afternoon quiet on Brookline Avenue. The birds were a sign that the spring of 1932 had finally arrived in Cleveland. A breeze from the lake kept the air cooler in the shade but the sun smiled down and the earth warmed lazily. The afternoon calm was shattered as twelve-year-old Ruby ran down the street like the devil chased her.

At the corner of Brookline and Crawford she slowed and tossed a look over her shoulder to see Mary B. Martin Elementary School disappearing behind her. Ruby lifted her young face to the sun and indulged herself in the warm rays of early spring and newfound freedom. Trouble would follow her later but she would deal with it when it came. Right now freedom felt wonderful. Her glasses slid down her nose and she ripped the horrid things from her face. They were the ugliest pair of glasses she had ever seen. Squinting was better than wearing those things. Hand-me-downs. Not even hand-me-downs from her sisters but someone else’s castoffs. Everything in her life was a castoff. Something someone else was done with. Well she was done with them. The ugly thick lenses drew more attention to her mended ill-fitting clothes and brought taunts and teasing from her peers.

Voices from the playground still echoed in her head: “Nah-nah-na-nah-nah. Look at ol’ four eyes. Are those old bottle bottoms sittin’ on your nose?” She shook her head to empty the memory of the echoing childish laughter that had followed her through the school and down the hall until she ran out the front door into the street.

Ruby slowed her pace and paused to spit.

Ignoring her mother’s admonitions, she let fly with disgust the best effort she could gather from the back of her throat and spattered the dirt on the sidewalk. She could spit with the best of them thanks to her brothers. They had been forced to teach her when Ruby followed Eddie, the youngest, to the back of the old shed behind the duplex. She’d found them all partaking of a pouch of chewing tobacco. Sonny, Harold, and Jake were waiting for Eddie. A huge moan went up from the group as she rounded the shed a few steps behind him. When she threatened to blow the whistle, Sonny, who was really named Charles Jr., sat her down and against the others’ protests, let her join them in their male ritual. The tobacco tasted rank but it drew the juices to your mouth making it easier to spit and you could distinctly see your progress with the dark brown stain it left as it hit the sun bleached wood of the shed.

Now she spit one more time for good measure. Stupid kids. Why did they always pick on her? There were plenty of other girls with patched stockings and worn out hand-me-downs. After all, these were hard times. Didn’t anyone else’s mother drill that into their head? Clothes had to be stretched to their limit. She kicked a rock that tumbled erratically over the next three slabs of slate in the sidewalk. Ruby was tired of it all. A sigh escaped from the depths of her troubled soul.

“Some day,” Ma would always promise. Some day, she would have nice clothes. Some day, she wouldn’t have to fight for the last piece of bread on the table. Some day, they would live in a nice house. Some day. Some day. Some day. It never came. Life continued on in its daily struggle to bring hope to the hopeless. The despair seeped into your bones like the cold of a Cleveland winter that gripped you until you ached.

Ruby picked up a stick and absently began to drag it along the bottom of the wrought iron fence beside her. She lost herself in its rhythm, tack-tack, tack-tack, as it bounced in her hand. It still had the damp smell of rotting fungus and bark from the leftover April showers that had plagued the first week of May. But today the sun was warm and the fragrance of spring flowers hung in the air. Buttery daffodils, cherry red tulips and sweet lavender hyacinths gave striking color and new scents to the damp dark earth.

The stick suddenly recoiled from a large hinge that held a gate where a driveway cut through the fence. She paused, hooked her arms through the rails and looked through the black bars to the huge Euclid Avenue mansion beyond the soft green grass. She was sure these people didn’t have to wear patched stockings and ugly glasses. Ruby guessed that there were large rooms for all their children with huge closets filled to the brim with fresh crisp new clothes unlike the small two bedroom house she lived in with her six brothers and sisters. She didn’t even have a closet. She had two tiny bureau drawers and a doorknob.

She drifted into one of her many daydreams, the only escape from the problems and burdens placed on her by being a twelve year old caught in the agony of growing up during desperate economic times. In her dream, she was wearing a beautiful white dress and a straw bonnet to keep the sun off her head. Her dark black hair was tucked neatly underneath it. Lily and Jennie, her older sisters, were with her and they were setting up little metal hoops for their game of croquet. The patio table held a beautiful tray of sandwiches and fruits and a large pitcher of lemonade sat sweating from the ice cubes floating in the sweet-sour drink. In the huge maple tree was a large crude tree house where her brothers carried on with their chewing and spitting and those other secret things that boys do. She would be allowed into their inner sanctum because she was a good spitter, one of the best.

Butterflies, yes, there would be butterflies. Lots of butterflies floating about them, landing on brightly colored flowers in the gardens to drink the sweet nectar from the deep throats the blossoms offered up to them. She and her siblings didn’t have to go to school. They had a tutor to teach them like in the story about Heidi that Ruby had just finished reading. Best of all, Ma and Pa sat on a swing, beaming at their children, with their arms around each other in an embrace. Yes, some day had finally—

“You there! What are you doing? Shouldn’t you be in school?”

Ruby’s heart almost leapt out of her chest. She bolted back to reality. “I’m. . .I’m.” She was trying to think fast. The leathery-skinned man who stared down at her curled his lip and narrowed his brows. The huge pair of cutters he held dripped with bits and pieces of things—as if he had somehow cut Ruby’s daydream to shreds. “I’m meeting my father in the park. Sorry. I was just looking at the flowers.”

“Well, you’d better move along. You can’t be standing here gawking all day.” The blades snapped sharply as he whacked at a few more stray twigs on a bush nearby. He stared at her until she turned away and began to move off. She glanced back to see him pick up the fallen debris and start for a wheelbarrow that teemed with the remains of the trimmed hedge.

Ruby continued down Euclid and crossed East 103rd Street to set off in the direction of the Wade Park Lagoon. She would watch the ducks and dangle her feet in the water until it was time to go home. As she neared the pond, a familiar noise caught her attention. It was the distinct sputtering rhythm of her father’s old Ford truck. Someone else must have that same truck, she thought. It can’t be him. Today is egg day.

Buy her book here:
Amazon Print

About Karen:
Karen has lived in Northeast Ohio most of her life. Karen and her husband, Bob, have raised five children and now have nine grandchildren. A graduate of Ohio State University, Buckeye blood courses scarlet and gray through Karen’s veins. Every football Saturday a large Brutus the Buckeye can be seen displayed in their front yard next to the OSU flag. Those neighbors who are not Wolverine fans are amused.

In 1987, Karen published her first small essay in an adult Sunday school take-home paper and there’s been no stopping her penchant for writing since. Her writing areas are as eclectic as her reading preferences. She has written essays, articles, and columns for newspapers, regional and national magazines, and online e-zines. She has contributed to several compilation books and along with five other writers who all met online, she has published two non-fiction books, A Scrapbook of Christmas Firsts and A Scrapbook of Motherhood Firsts. Karen’s first love of writing however is fiction and she now has five published novels, the latest, Ruby, A Novel. 

While there’s no place like home, Karen and her husband are world travelers. The couple has set foot on all seven continents and in 2015, circumnavigated the globe on a 108 day world cruise. Her travel adventures are posted at her blog, Writer’s Wanderings.  Exploring the works of God’s hands has been a blessing and a joy and supplied memories to treasure forever. 

Connect with Karen at:

KAREN is giving away a copy of RUBY a Novel. The giveaway is only available to U.S. addresses. To be entered in the book giveaway, leave a comment along with your email address. You can enter the book giveaway twice--once on each spotlight post.

Happy Reading!
Caroline Brown


cjajsmommy said...

If this story goes where I think it goes, I may have heard a similar story last night from a dear friend. On her way home from her brother's funeral last week, her other brother decided to fill in some details that she never knew -- like she and her deceased brother possibly did not have the same father, and when her mother found herself pregnant with baby #2 (while her husband was overseas fighting in the war), she decided to divorce the soldier husband and marry the father-for-sure of baby #2. And we think this generation is a mess! Just go back to the forties and see if things are that much different! Any way, would love to read your book. cjajsmommy (at) gmail (dot) com

Deb R.

Lisa Lickel said...

So excited for you Karen! Congratulations.

Connie said...

I wonder how many secrets have been revealed when a person is facing death (or discovered by accident after a loved one dies). This sounds very interesting!
cps1950 at gmail dot com

Kim Amundsen said...

Love the excerpt of the book.

Nalynn9500 said...

Sounds like a great book Mrs. Robbins! Congratulations on getting it published! I hope for great success!

Nalynn9500 said...

Sounds like a great book Mrs. Robbins! Congratulations on getting it published! I hope for great success!

Anonymous said...

sounds like a great book! Shelia Hall sheliarha64(at)yahoo(dot)com

Caryl Kane said...

I would LOVE to read RUBY.


Library Lady said...

My Mother's name is Ruby. My cousin's name is Rubye. I will think of them both while reading this book.
Janet E.

Karen Robbins said...

Thank you to all for your interest in Ruby! There will also be a Goodreads giveaway starting September 8 if you don't win the free book here.

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