When dreams of making a mark in life are your primary goal but your family has other ideas for you what does a young teenage girl do? In life if you want something you need to figure out how to get there and never give up until you do. Ruby is growing up during a time where girls are expected to learn to sew, cook, care for their families and eventually have one of their own. Not in the stars for Ruby. She wanted improved things and admired her father a businessperson, investor and land developer politician and much more. Always there to help others those in need. An entirely family story that transcend during this time of change, strife, loss and a young girl’s rise to adulthood hoping to achieve her goals. Meet Ruby Pearl. A family that was remarkably close and rules were at the heart of their foundation. Her mother Zola ran the house like clockwork and expected her children to do their chores, help when needed and put all else aside. The two towns in question are Drumright and where she lived Oilton where most of the oil rig workers lived, it was a rough town and disagreements at times were settled with guns. The sheriff was on it and the spirt of the was there. People moved from all over when they had to, and help was there, and the people had a new family.
Changes were happening everywhere like the train; the phone and other inventions and Ruby just had her sights on going to college and living in a man’s world hoping to show everyone that she will succeed. Her parents wanted her to meet someone, and Arthur seemed right at the time. Courtships were monitored, rules were in place and respect and dignity were paramount. Bessie was her best friend whose mom owned the fabric store, and she was invited to look at the new fabrics and learn about what most of us take for granted today readymade dresses that you do not have to create or sew yourself. The death of her Uncle Vernon changed things for the family as now her Uncle Jim who owns the grocery story was leaving town, her father fought the store and the property for the store and his property belong to her mother. Vernon left Uncle Jim enough money to do just that without selling the Oilton store, but she had another idea that the boys should help pay their way through college. Rough times were ahead when the KKK moved in and James Ditmore her father had to befriend them, help them in anyway he could but they are vengeful and when they saw him give a ride to a black family they were going to teach him lesson. Warned by two of his friends, they put a plan in action, and you won’t believe the result. Don’t mess with James!
There is much more to the story as you take the many journeys with Ruby through High School, her courtship with Arthur, her friends who just wanted the attention of her two brothers, the excitement of football games, her special birthday and the love of her parents that were strict and even posted dating rules that every family adhered to. Ruby loved her grandmother and when getting ready for her special day placed the beautiful comb in her hair. She dreamed of going to colors. Oilton and Drumright offered different study tracks and students had a choice of college prep, commercial or conventional studies, or others. She thought about it and saved money toward making her dream come true. She was in demand and wanted her own life.
As you get to know her family you realize that they are at the heart of what impacts the town. Zola expects Ruby to follow the rules she filled marrying at 14 and a child at 15. Times in the 1920’s were different and parents more rigid, yet Ruby just wanted them to be proud of her and respect her choices in life. Ida Jane her younger sister was her pipeline to news about her friends, what her parents expect of her and at times a real pain.
Life was good and school was her haven and reading helped her escape at times yet dating Arthur who truly seemed to care for her and her him was a perfect way for her to appease her parents. Deep down her goals were set and she managed to save up money and what she planned and did shock her family to the core. Refusing to tell them where she was, what school she attended and asking they not try to find her you know she might succeed for a while. Ruby is smart and resourceful.
Ruby meets a special person who gives her a room , job and even teaches her to cook. One server in the diner set her on this right path. Respecting the boundaries and entering college Ruby made close friends and even more won the help and respect of her math teacher when she realizes she needed more confidence and help. But somehow the unthinkable happens and her brother is accepted into the Freemasons cub the same town she is living in. Clara her new best friend covers for her along with Phoebe.
Flashing back, I loved the scenes with The Chair when her mother would have private conversations with her , expectations discussed and stories for her life retold. I really identified when her mother enlisted the Chair before her date with Arthur my mom was the same way, and my dad would question my dates and set the rules .
Ruby was strong willed and determined to make her mark so when her opponent on the debating team makes a statement about her father watch out for what she does. The valedictorian’s speech at graduation says it all as we flash forward to college again.
Ms. MacAfee is her property owner and working for her for room and board was a perfect match for both of them. Going to Chillicothe Business College was the right choice and the courses were challenging. Charging her name and her appearance she hoped her family would not find her but as I said before you never know how far her parents will go to control a situation and put it in the direction they want. What happens next will shock Ruby when someone shows up takes a stand, but the outcome is not what you expect. Will she be welcomed home after graduation? Will she be acceptable for a job in her field? The final scenes Christmas with her college friends doing something for Phoebe, losing a good friend and then learning done harsh realities of life. The last two pages says it all as once again her parents decide her direction. Ruby is smart and teens and young adults can learn much from reading the stories and the life of the author’s grandmother. Diann Floyd Bohem shares a heartfelt true story that everyone will find many parts and characters to identify with.
A Girl’s struggle for more! If you have a goal and a solid plan just like Ruby you too will Rise.
Fran Lewis just reviews