Cover Image: Rubyfruit Jungle

Rubyfruit Jungle

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Member Reviews

3 stars         
A classic queer coming of age novel, this didn’t quite live up to my lofty expectations but is still a pretty good book. It’s a good depiction of life in the US south in the late 20th C, & has a relatable coming of age storyline.
[What I liked:]

•A classic lesbian coming of age novel, this has been on my radar for a long while but I had never gotten around to reading it until I found this audiobook. Was it as impactful & memorable as I had been expecting? Not really. But it’s still a part of queer literary history so I’m glad I read it.
•The MC has a strong voice, a strong spirit, & a strong survival instinct. Her relationships with her family (abusive mother, kind father, childhood bff & ally) help shape her into who she becomes as a woman, yet she never loses sight of who is she & what she wants from life.

•The MC’s final meeting with her mother was emotionally resonant & a strong ending for the story arc. It’s one of the best scenes in the book, imo.

[What I didn’t like as much:]

•The story focuses so much on the MC’s childhood & early adolescence that I felt her independent, adult years were missing substance & depth. Not that I disliked her narration of her early years, but it almost felt more like a YA novel than general fiction. Just not what I was expecting.

CW: child abuse, homophobia 

[I received an ARC ebook copy from NetGalley in exchange for my honest review. Thank you for the book!]
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RUBYFRUIT JUNGLE by Rita Mae Brown is a queer coming of age story which was first published in 1973. Considered scandalous and uncouth by the status quo straight American at the time, it appears it was also a respite and revolutionary tome to some that identified with the story, which is semi-autobiographical, of Molly Bolt, a poor Southern woman who realized early on that she was not into dudes as she was expected to be.

I listened to the audiobook of this re-released classic that was narrated by Anna Paquin (SOOOOKIE!) and I think she added some excellent flair and sass to the book. I liked Molly's defiance and tenacity in the face of normalcy, her free love attitude, and her insistence that she should be happy just like any other person. Thank you to the publisher @blackstonepublishing and @netgalley for the audiobook ARC.

There were also some pretty cringy parts to this story for me and while the concept of being who you are definitely rang true, much of the content is definitely dated and does not hold up including a questionable dalliance with a family member and some sprinkles of racism.

All in all, I think that if you like classic literature and are able to understand the context of time in this story, you will probably enjoy the heart of this book, but beware it is not without it's flaws.

#classic #lesbiancomingofage #lgbtq #comingofage #queerbooks #bookstagram #booksta #booksofig #booknerd #bookdragon #bookreview #pridemonth
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I absolutely loved this audio book and cannot believe I hadn’t read it.. It’s a true classic. We follow the story of Molly Bolt. She’s feisty and fearless. She’s a tomboy who won’t be told what she can and can’t do. Her love is pure and naive at first - what does it matter  if she loves women? She’s not hurting anyone. She refuses to be crushed into conforming to societal norms and I admire her for that but it doesn’t make  for an easy life. When I realised this was an autobiography I feel a bit in love with the author. This is just as relevant as when it was written, fifty years ago. It’s heartwarming and funny with tinges of sadness. The narrator was perfect and really brought the story to life. I wish I could listen again for the first time.
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This is no fault of the narrator, but I feel this book is one that works best when read in print. The story was captivating, but it was hard for me to follow in audiobook format.
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For all the queer books I’ve read, particularly sapphic ones, I’ve never gotten around to reading this classic, that is until I found out the recently-released audio version is narrated by Anna Paquin. Molly Bolt, orphaned by an unwed mother, spends her childhood with a woman who constantly reminds her she’s a bastard. Molly doesn’t care, though. She doesn’t care that she’s different, or that she likes girls. She’s got dreams and she’ll never apologize for who she is or what she wants.

I thoroughly enjoyed this listen. Paquin does an excellent narration job. Molly really came to life. I loved Molly’s character and even though her journey was hard, almost like a Hemingway Hero, she had her own code. Nobody else had to understand it, and she never judged anyone else, but her code was hers to follow, without compromise. If you’ve never picked it up before, I highly recommend the audio listen. It moved quickly and I tore through it in just about two days.

It’s out now wherever you get your audiobooks (and I’m sure you can find the print edition any and everywhere).
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While I am greatly interested in the story and classic that Rubyfruit Jungle is and has been, Anna Paquin seems like the most random choice for a narrator. And not in a good way. Something about the cadence of her voice and  the way she pronounces certain words really took me out of the compelling story. I am conflicted on how to rate this because the book itself is perfectly fine and good, but Ms. Paquin really threw a wrench in that. If you like her and enjoy her voice then this will 100% be for you! But if you are like me and can be picky about who is reading the book for the audio version, you may want to listen to a short excerpt first to make sure you like it!
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A excellent coming of age tale about Molly Bolt, a young, but strong and fiercely herself women who might be a lesbian, might be bi, but completely rejected labels and loves who she loves.

Molly sense of who she is and standing up for herself and her values and her lack of desire to cover things up leaves her metaphorically beating her head against the ugliest parts of society. Her relationship with her mother is very interesting.

Great audio narration.

Just a really good book and a solid 5 star read.
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It’s hard to believe this book was first published almost 50 years ago.  I’m sure the story was shocking in 1973.   This coming-of-age story follows Molly Bolt as she explores who she loves and wants to be.   Unfortunately, bigotry takes many forms as Molly moves unapologetically through life.  Her reflections on society’s bias on sexism and sexuality are purely refreshing, but in 1973 I’m sure it was shocking.  The story is funny, sad, hopeful, and maddening.   Molly shows that being true to oneself is the greatest happily ever after one can hope for.   People are not defined by their race, gender, age, socioeconomic status, or sexual orientation, but only by their humanity.  

Rubyfruit Jungle audiobook was just released in January 2022 and is narrated by Anna Paquin.  Her narration captures Molly’s wit, brashy confidence, and undeterred determination as Molly seeks to succeed in a world stacked against her.  I absolutely loved Anna’s version of Molly and highly recommend the audiobook.  Rubyfruit Jungle would be an excellent selection for Women’s History Month.
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What to say about a book you read again after more than a quarter century? Parts of it hold up! Anna Paquin is a fun narrator! I have missed just like TOTAL GAY PROMISCUITY in my books lately and it was great to see that! But as someone who really cares about character depth, there is less of that than i am used to in my books, and that is from someone who mostly reads romcoms. And not that much plot? Overall, when i read this in like 1994 as a queer teen we had few other options, and i am very glad we have so many more books to choose from now that are, on almost every level, just better. But they could take a hint from this book and add more low-consequence sex with people that are totally inessential to the plot.
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I read this book wayyyyy back in the day, not to many years after its original release. I was very happy to see that it's finally an audiobook and I was also excited to listen when I read that Anna Paquin was the narrator. 

The story is a fun and easy read. I honestly don't remember the story at all from reading it, so it's like enjoying a brand new story. The only disappointment is Anna Paquin herself. Her voice seems frail and raspy and it sounds like she's fluctuating between an American accent and her own original  Kiwi accent.  It doesn't take away from the story to not want to continue listening, but it is a let-down and I wish she would have put her acting chops to use.
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Wonderful read.

Thanks to Netgalley and the publishers for letting me access an advance copy of this book in exchange for my feedback.
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I've had this book on my TBR since around 2020, ever since I saw it in an article about queer books that are must reads.
So of course when I saw the audiobook on Netgalley, I instantly requested it and I'm thankful to the publisher for granting me access in exchange for a review.
I was honestly enjoying the first half quite a lot, it had its weird moments but I was still enjoying it. The second half though, that's when everything seems to be only problematic with not one good thing in site for miles and miles.
First off, the ageism in this book threw me off so much. That is until Paulina comes in, of course. Old people and middle aged ladies are too ugly for Molly to be interested in but Paulina is not which I haven't been able to figure out why.
Then the way Molly literally forces herself on Paulina was very disturbing. Even more so when Paulina in turn turns out to be interested as well. This paints such a sick image about how any woman will be into other women if only a lesbian woman forces and essentially, sexually assaults them. I don't think I need to point out how problematic this is.
And then, the INCEST. It was beyond disturbing to read Molly and Alice talk about how incest is okay and it is "anti-human" to say it's not okay.
There are far more problematic things that can probably be chalked upto it being "70s" but I truly don't think anything can excuse the above points.
The narrator did a great job however and if it wasn't for them, I probably would've DNFed this. I won't be recommending this book to anyone at all.
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3.5 stars rounded to 4 stars

A combination of thrilling and disturbing, naughty and wrong. Even after weeks of reflection, I still can’t figure out if I’m traumatized by what I’ve read, or if this is literary genius (probably not the latter).
Regardless of whether this was published last year or 80 years ago, there is zero doubt that incest in the 1900s has never been accept then or now, and for good reason. Disgusting. I can’t wrap my head around why the author thought this was a good idea. It paints a terrible image of sapphic women.
There is also so many problematic issues with how being queer is portrayed in general. Ugh, I really wanted to LOVE this book, but I barely like it. I’m going to give this author a second chance and hope that it’s a different read.

(I received this audiobook ARC via NetGalley in return for an honest review.)
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This is a rerelease of a lesbian fiction classic originally published in 1977. I did not care much for the narrator, so it kind of ruined everything for me.
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Re-release and great new audiobook version read by Anna Paquin. A classic. A must-read for anyone interested in and exploring LGBT history and literature. I'm so glad I re-read this. This was such a 'hot topic' tantalizing book for years after it was published. Now, it reads as a well written coming of age story- not strictly, a 'Lesbian book'.  I know that today many people, especially in the LGBTQIA community,  are highly critical of it. That it's not PC. I think that criticism is misguided. It was a triumph when it was first published. This is still a completely engaging adventure of a fierce character forging her place in a world that wasn't ready for her. I still love this book and every character in it. It made history. Now it is a piece of history. A glimpse in to the past that is unchanged. 

I received a copy from the publisher, through NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review.
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Rubyfruit Jungle is a classic book in queer literature that I had somehow never heard of! As somebody who tries to devour any and all queer fiction, this was an obvious pick up for me.

I thought this book was compelling: I like the way old books can sometimes be franker about subjects normally considered off limits in polite conversation, and how authors these days definitely hold back from this kind of discussion in their books. I enjoyed the narrative voice, though I did find moments of the book to be distasteful.

I really enjoyed the narration from Anna Paqin, though I agree with another reviewer in saying that her voice didn't have much change between characters which definitely made the narration harder to follow at times since I didn't have the book right in front of me.
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Originally published in 1977, this book is a classic in lesbian fiction. We follow Molly, our protagonist, as a teen affirming her sexuality, into her young twenties where she fights to be a film director in a man led world. She is misunderstood and outcast at every turn, and in her numerous attempts at love find she really doesn't need or want anyone at all. Molly comes across as rather heartless until a final school project in college leads her back home to her mom, where she is able to forgive and move on from some of the worst times of her life. A unique story that thankfully doesn't play out as true in most of current times America, but also sad, that not that long ago, being anything but a straight laced heterosexual was absurd. Thank you to Netgalley and Blackstone Audio for the opportunity to enjoy this book!
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Finally! A Classic has been made into an audiobook.  Rita Mae Brown mentions the ghettoization of her work as LGBTQ and I do agree that it is good literature that is about an LGBTQ person and while categorizing helps people find works it can also prevent others from reading.  

This story is a classic and I’ve always loved Molly - her finding and defining her self while resisting labels and categories- which may have resonated more with me even 30 odd years ago when I first read Rubyfruit Jungle.  Today, it seems as important as ever.

Anna Paqui’s voice for Molly is strong, with sarcastic moments, genuine doubt and more. However, I found her other voices for other characters were not differentiated enough which on occasion led to confusion over who was speaking.  

Overall, I enjoyed revisiting a book that was a guiding light, a hopeful story of someone like me, and a damn good story of defining one-self.  I am thrilled to have experienced it again in audio format.
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I surprisingly enjoyed this book -- I say "surprisingly" because I often struggle with books where a significant portion is from the perspective of a child and is written as such. The main character is likeable and rebellious, pushing back on a world that tries to limit her because of who she is. In this short book, Brown takes on issues of class, region, gender, and sexuality and how our society tries to limit people and their life paths based on these identities. My understanding is that the book is semi-autobiographical, which leads me to believe the peek that you get into queer life in this moment in time, once the protagonist makes it to NYC, is somewhat authentic. It's a charming bildungsroman with a strong female lead that I think would be great in middle school classrooms.
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Rubyfruit Jungle has been on my “I should read that” radar for a long time, so I was already interested when I saw this new audio edition coming out and was even more intrigued when I saw it was going to be narrated by Anna Paquin. 

While definitely not without flaws (some of which can be chalked up to the time it was written in and some of which can’t, it’s a very interesting story, and oddly compelling. It reminded me in a lot of ways of To Kill a Mockingbird, with its down-south voice and sometimes bewilderingly frank discussions of subjects and scenarios considered taboo in many circles. I think in a weird way it could also be read as an updated, gender-bent History of Tom Jones, and Molly certainly presents a fascinating character. By turns honorable, selfish, viciously judgmental, amiably amoral, and, by the end, humble, she sometimes seems like quite the unlikely heroine, but never a boring one. 

The spare prose and sometimes choppy dialogue is greatly elevated by a stellar narration by Paquin, who manages to bring out sympathy in the reader even in Molly’s worst moments. 

Sizism and fatphobia play an unfortunately large role in the characters’, and I suspect the author’s, subconscious, and some slurs and stereotypes are bandied about in ways that, though they are presented to be critiqued and dismantled, may be jarring.
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