Friday, July 1, 2011

Mama Ruby

Mama Ruby
Mary Monroe
Anyone who is a fan of author Mary Monroe, knows she tells a damn good story. Mama Ruby is the prequel of her first story The Upper Room. Ruby Jean Upshaw is the 7th daughter of a 7th daughter and she’s also a Preachers kid, of which she cares nothing about. She doesn’t care for the superstitions that go with the 7th of the 7th, or being under the strict supervision of her well to do daddy. It was all a burden to her.

Ruby meets Othella Mae Cartier, a “fast” girl and child of Simone, mother of 7 and a prostitute, and finds her much more interesting than the girls her age. Ruby and Othella, form a secret friendship. Ruby also has a crush on Ike Simone’s brother.

Ruby’s “whoremores” start acting up and she gets involved with Ike and several boys, and ends up pregnant. Ruby hides the pregnancy until one night she gives birth at a party at Othella’s house. Simone knows how to make this “problem” go away, especially since it may be Ike’s baby. The “good” Reverend Upshaw would kill Ruby, Ike and Simone if he was to find out. Ruby wants her daughter, but they talk her into letting Simone take the child to an asylum, and makes the “problem” go away.

The “good’ Revered Upshaw gets busted by Ruby, in the same bed she gave birth in with Simone. She then uses that information to blackmail her father into letting her quit school and go to New Orleans with Othella. They want to find jobs and husbands. Ruby’s mama thinks someone has worked some voodoo on her husband when he tells her.

They make their way the The Big Easy, but life is not as easy as they thought it would be. They end up saying with a mangy old man named Mr. Boatwright. Ruby who is very proficient with her switchblade, and has to help Othella out of a bad situation. They end up at a whorehouse, the very place Othella was trying to get away from. Privileged Ruby is a maid.

The girls do find husbands, but the one the Ruby longs for, a baby girl, she can’t have. Othella has 8 children ,by 8 different men. Ruby always teases her about stealing the newest girl.

This story was so heart wrenching and times, I always wondered how she got the name Mama Ruby. The agony of her daughter being taken away from her, left a hole, that nothing could fill.
This was a fantastic, well told story that was a 5 star read.


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