Ruby Red (by Linzi Glass)

22 06 2011

Set in 1976 in South Africa, Ruby Red describes the life of 17-year-old Ruby Winters, whose parents have no black servants and do not believe in discrimination based on skin color. This in itself was revolutionary in South Africa reigned by the Apartheid regime. The fact that Ruby’s mother has an art gallery and is involved with black township artists, giving them a chance to express the injustice done against them, even adds to the fact that Ruby has to hide her family life from everyone she knows. At school, she behaves like a model student (so she can just blend in), but at the same time she has the feeling she has to hide who she really is. Added to this societal commentary is a love story between English Ruby and Afrikaans Johann, that has to show that Apartheid wasn’t the only thing that made life difficult in 1970s South Africa. Ruby’s parents for instance would rather tolerate their daughter dating a black man than a white Boer. Equality has its boundaries apparently, even for the broad-minded.

Just like a while ago, the cat had to say there was nothing wrong with writing just an OK book. This is one of them. It’s OK, though not very memorable. This last element is mainly due to the fact that the characters don’t really have a lot of depth (besides Ruby). Ruby for example meets a girl who goes to the competing Afrikaans school and develops a friendship with her. However, we don’t exactly see the two interact much. The same is true for Johann, her love interest. Ruby Red is an OK book, it proved its point, but the cat wants more.

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