#NewRelease~~What Happened to Ruthy Ramierez by Claire Jimenez
A deeply powerful, raw debut novel of a Puerto Rican family in Staten Island who discovers their long‑missing sister is potentially alive and cast on a reality TV show, and they set out to bring her home.
The Ramirez women of Staten Island orbit around absence. When thirteen‑year‑old middle child Ruthy disappeared after track practice without a trace, it left the family scarred and scrambling. One night, twelve years later, oldest sister Jessica spots a woman on her TV screen in Catfight, a raunchy reality show. She rushes to tell her younger sister, Nina: This woman’s hair is dyed red, and she calls herself Ruby, but the beauty mark under her left eye is instantly recognizable. Could it be Ruthy, after all this time?
The years since Ruthy’s disappearance haven’t been easy on the Ramirez family. It’s 2008, and their mother, Dolores, still struggles with the loss, Jessica juggles a newborn baby with her hospital job, and Nina, after four successful years at college, has returned home to medical school rejections and is forced to work in the mall folding tiny bedazzled thongs at the lingerie store.
After seeing maybe‑Ruthy on their screen, Jessica and Nina hatch a plan to drive to where the show is filmed in search of their long‑lost sister. When Dolores catches wind of their scheme, she insists on joining, along with her pot-stirring holy roller best friend, Irene. What follows is a family road trip and reckoning that will force the Ramirez women to finally face the past and look toward a future—with or without Ruthy in it.
What Happened to Ruthy Ramirez is a vivid family portrait, in all its shattered reality, exploring the familial bonds between women and cycles of generational violence, colonialism, race, and silence, replete with snark, resentment, tenderness, and, of course, love.
Sandy’s 4.25 Blush Review
Imagine flipping through miscellaneous tv shows and there on the screen is your sister. Except that she, Ruthy, disappeared without a trace 12 years earlier. Yet there she is! Same red hair. Same beauty mark under her eye. Could it be her? It’s now 2008 so if it’s her where the hell has she been? Our middle sister never came home and nothing since has gone the way it should have for any of them. That’s just one of the questions, I would have for her.
So starts an epic road trip with their mom tagging along and some silly scheme to find Ruthy, confront her and get at the truth. The Ramirez women use very colorful language so if the word fuck liberally sprinkled around is bothersome for you – this book may not be your flavor. I grew up in Brooklyn and I’m Puerto Rican so I had no problem with the use of Spanish either.
These women? I felt a kinship with them – like I recognized them in my own family. The story is told in multiple points of view. You’d think that might be confusing, but the author does a very good job of giving each character individuality.
Their mother, Dolores, blames herself for everything that has happened since that day. It hangs over her like a dark cloud and has slowly seeped into Jessica, Nina and before his death, their father too. They are the definition of generational trauma.
Many truths are spoken by the time you turn the last page. The family bond is deep and the sisterhood remains intact. I laughed, I empathized, I hurt for them.
Thousands of black, brown and indigenous women go missing every single year. We do find out what happened to Ruthy. Maybe it would have been better if we had not. That ending? It played in my mind like a movie and haunted me for days afterwards. This was a solid debut from Claire Jimenez.