Saving Ruby King by Catherine Adel West REVIEW


Hardcover, 352 pages

Publication: June 16th 2020

Publisher: Park Row


Set in the South Side of Chicago, an epic, enthralling story of a young woman determined to protect her best friend while a long-buried secret threatens to unravel both their families.


Family. Faith. Secrets. Everything in this world comes full circle.


When Ruby King’s mother is found murdered in their home in Chicago’s South Side, the police dismiss it as another act of violence in a black neighborhood. But for Ruby, it means she’ll be living alone with her violent father. The only person who understands the gravity of her situation is Ruby’s best friend, Layla. Their closeness is tested when Layla’s father, the pastor of their church, demands that Layla stay away. But what are his true motives? And what is the price for turning a blind eye?


In a relentless quest to save Ruby, Layla comes to discover the murky loyalties and dark secrets tying their families together for three generations. A crucial pilgrimage through the racially divided landscape of Chicago, Saving Ruby King traces the way trauma is passed down through generations and the ways in which communities can come together to create sanctuary.


Saving Ruby King is an emotional and revelatory story of race, family secrets, faith and redemption. This is an unforgettable debut novel from an exciting new voice in fiction and a powerful testament that history doesn’t determine the present, and that the bonds of friendship can forever shape the future.


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One of the genre tags on this was thriller and I think going into it with that expectation dropped it down a star for me. It was a little too slow for my liking throughout and I would even barely say this qualified as a mystery.


It read more like a family drama with a sinister twist which might have been what earned it the mystery tag. It held a lot of family history and almost became more educational than anything on some of the experiences that were held by black community members.



Catherine Adel West originally interviewed on Our Stories Matter

Describe yourself in five words, then expound on one of them. Intelligent, creative, focused, funny, and proud. I’d say ‘focused’ is the word that best describes me. It took a lot to get my debut novel Saving Ruby King traditionally published. There’s a lot of rejection and doubt peppered throughout the journey towards publication, but if you remain steadfast and confident in your ability, there is a good chance you’ll be able to achieve your goal, no matter what it is.

Explain your writing procedure, such as how you come up with ideas, carve out time to write (or, if you can write anywhere at any time during the day), deal with writer’s block, or anything particular or peculiar. I’m a pantser, so many of my ideas for Saving Ruby King came to me at moments when I was focused on something else. Also, I pull many of my ideas from my experiences and the people around me. I write at all times of the day (when I’m not at my job). Mainly, I write on weekends in the morning as it’s a calm time. Recently, I’ve participated in writing sprints with friends who are other women of color. We talk, encourage each other, and have a lot of fun. If I experience writer’s block, I normally write something outside of my comfort zone. So, I’ll write some (bad) poetry or flash fiction, or I read a book I’ve been meaning to read for a while. That normally gets my creative juices flowing again.


Balance is the key to successful living. How do you balance the act of writing with other priorities, such as your job, family or fun activities, and self-care?

I tend to write when I can and where I can. If I can get out a few hundred words after I get off work, I try to write at that time as well. My family and friends are very understanding of my need to write, and I tend to plan events WAY in advance when I spend time with them. When it comes to self-care, I need to do better. I push myself to do the most I can do, not just for this book, but to ensure other writing opportunities for all my future works. I want to become a full-time writer sooner rather than later, so many times I forgo taking care of myself to fulfill that dream. My mom told me to do better, lol.


Understanding your audience is essential. What do you know for sure about the audience you are writing for? Nothing is for sure. I can only hope those who discover Saving Ruby King are those who are looking for a book about love, knowing it’s never easy. I also hope my readers realize that forgiveness is something that serves not just as healing for the person who wronged you, but it’s a gift for you as well.

Tell us about your book. When Ruby King’s mother is found murdered in their home in Chicago’s South Side, the police dismiss it as another act of violence in a black neighborhood. But for Ruby, it means she’ll be living alone with her violent father. The only person who understands the gravity of her situation is Ruby’s best friend, Layla. Their closeness is tested when Layla’s father, the pastor of their church, demands that Layla stay away. But what are his true motives? And what is the price for turning a blind eye? Family. Faith. Secrets. Everything in this world comes full circle.



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