If you can bear to have lived it, I can at least bear to listen. In some ways this line is the heart of Cynthia Bond’s debut novel, Ruby. Every sentence seems infused with the contradiction of dark history and memory paired with the expansive reach of love and light. Spanning the depth of racial and sexual brutality in a small town in East Texas, we watch Ruby Bell grow from a beautiful child to a feral woman—someone that is plagued by what she has seen. Ruby is haunted. She lives a fever dream where ghosts talk to her, and history assaults her, and yet, there is one person, Ephram, the gentle deeply observant man that has loved Ruby his whole life that may be able to redeem her pain. Bond’s lyricism and talent has been compared to Toni Morrison or William Faulkner, and there is no denying such comparisons, but this book is also a stunning, poetic, part ghost story/part love story that stands fiercely on its own. This is an exquisite lasting read. —S.M.C.