By Widow Centauri
By Rita Mae Brown
Daughters Publishing 1973
Gawd forbid you are a dyke who has never read Rubyfruit Jungle. This coming of age tale takes us slowly though the adventures of a young woman, Molly Bolt, who is coming into her own. Molly is discovering that everyone else is slow and stupid, that they are vapid, uninteresting, unhappy, and straight.
The novel written by Rita Mae Brown is a classic in lesbian feminist literature. It had been a number of years since I had read Ruby Fruit Jungle. I was toying with reviewing some man bashing second wave feminist theory when it dawned on me to look at my shelf and read what I wanted to read. I kept coming back to my seriously tattered and held together by duct tape paperback version of Rubyfruit. I couldn’t help it I had to reread this. I devoured this novel and you will too.
Molly Bolt, the protagonists in this tale, grows up in small town America, she plays on dirt roads, she has deep and meaningful childhood experiences. You grow to lover her fast. Molly experiences the death of some of her favorite adults, she begins to question her sexuality, some adults scream at her because she is not honoring and reproducing her assigned gender role stereotypes. Molly is the odd man out. Molly has a series of queer relationships as she grows up. She offers heterosexuality a chance, having awkward sex with a few male bodied characters, but she is a loud and proud dyke. She never has a chance to come out of the closet because Molly is read by everyone. Molly is a tom-boy who does not like girlish things, she tries to pass as straight for a while, but fails.
This story takes us through the experience of Molly Bolt’s coming of age. From her young tween years until she finally manages to finish college, against all odds, Molly fights. She has to fight off the oppressive voice of heterosexual expectations from everyone telling her that she ‘only needs to find the right man.’ She has to fight her friends, her family, the misogyny of the work world, and herself. Molly’s day-to-day life is a struggle: always wanting love, always feeling alone, at the end of the story she discovers that she is loved more than she ever imagined.
Rita Mae Brown’s classic coming of age lesbian fiction is a must read. If you have ever felt out of place, against the whole world, unloved, out of options, sick of it all, and down right sorry for yourself Rubyfruit Jungle will shed a little light on your problems. We all have them. Molly Bolt is a character that reflects back to the reader like a mirror. You will grow to love this character in the first chapter. You will not be able to put this book down until the last page (and then the jacket). Rubyfruit Jungle is a passionate tale that will engage you, distract you, make you laugh out loud, and sob for the real human emotion that is present in this young persons life.
I almost never read novels anymore. I have to push aside all of my heavy research based nonfiction and make time for a novel. I feel refreshed and happy that I made the time to read a book that has brought me so much pleasure every time I have read it. I’m going to go re tape the binding on this book again.