Cover Image: What Happened to Ruthy Ramirez

What Happened to Ruthy Ramirez

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Member Reviews

When pain doesn't have an accurate target to hit, it lands on the family members closest to us. No one but the reader knows what happened to Ruthy, and in the search for a missing child, a lot of other secrets are unburied.

The short novel has four narrators: Ruthy, Nina, Jessica, and Ma. As the chapters circle the disappearance trying to uncover the truth of Ruthy's loss, their questioning turns inward, but their behaviors turn toxic and abusive.

I need more time with this book. None of the characters are likable. Ma is abusive and hateful to her daughters. Nina is a selfish college graduated underachiever. Jessica is an obnoxious martyr. And Ruthy, the youngest, is a child making a child's mistakes.

And yet each character has had to endure the worst humanity has to offer. It begs the question, are they unlikeable because the realities of the world twist them into curdled versions of themselves? Toxic vignette after toxic vignette creates a loop from which they can't seem to escape.

So why then do I love this book?

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Thank you to Grand Central Publishing for the ARC of this through @netgalley.

When I read the plot to this one, it made me think of "Monday's Not Coming" by Tiffany D Jackson. I thought it held a lot of promise and had the ability to be extremely impactful. With it's title, I assumed there'd be a little mystery and thriller aspect.

Unfortunately, it missed the mark for me. The character development and writing was fine, but the story and plot were lacking, disjointed, and didn't flow well. Truthfully, I think it would have worked best as a short story that included the first few chapters and the last few chapters.

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This book is for readers that don’t mind being a fly on the wall for pretty much whatever. Based on my reading experience, the lack of a plot and the open-endedness simply did not work for me. The author’s writing is easy to read and the dialogue between characters is believable, but my aversion to slice of life stories deeply impacted my rating. For all the story elements I did enjoy, there were so many pages that made me question the point of it all, and I finished the book with more questions than answers.

I enjoyed the book for:

- its depiction of a not-so-perfect family
- comedic banter
- relatable reality tv elements

Thank you to Netgalley and Grand Central Publishing for the digital ARC.

Full Review: https://readingbeyondthebookcover.com/book-review-what-happened-to-ruthy-ramirez-by-claire-jimenez/

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3.5 ⭐️ I enjoyed this book, overall, but it left me wanting more. I liked the way the author told the story, the characters, but there was something missing for me. The ending did shock me, I was not expecting that.

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I read this book for the Reader's Digest book club. I loved the idea of it but it was just OK for me. I understand the language was part of the family's dynamic, but it got very old.

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Just not for me. I might consider reading something different by this author though. Giving a moderate review because someone else may enjoy it more.

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Thirteen‑year‑old middle child Ruthy disappeared after track practice.
There seems to be no trace of her and her family is shattered and scrambling for answers.
Jump forward twelve years as older sister Jessica is watching a raunchy reality show where a woman named Ruby looks and acts like her long lost sister Ruthy. She informs her younger sister Nina of her discovery. This Ruby or possibly Ruthy has dyed red hair but importantly, she bears a beauty mark under her left eye just like their missing sister! Could it be Ruthy, after all this time?



The impact of Ruthy's disappearance hasn’t been easy on the Ramirez family. It’s now 2008, twelve years later and their mother, Dolores, is still struggling with the loss of her child, Jessica now has a newborn baby and works in a hospital. Nina, after four years of college, has returned home to medical school rejections. Her dream deterred as she is forced to work at a mall lingerie store folding tiny bedazzled thongs. 



Upon the discovery of the possibility of having found their sister, Jessica and Nina hatch a plan to drive to where the show is filmed. Mom learns of her daughters plan and insists on joining, along with her pot-stirring holy roller best friend, Irene. Get ready for a rollicking family road trip. 


Debut author, Jiménez portrays the resilience and spirit of Puerto Rican women.

Highly recommend!

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4.5 Stars

This book was already on my TBR when I received the opportunity to read it on NetGalley in exchange for my unbiased review. I had been in a reading slump for a few weeks and thought a light YA novel might help me back into the groove. I really underestimated how much this story would captivate me. I even found myself wanting to take a day off of work just to stay home and keep reading and I’ve been thinking about this book for days since I finished reading it.

I was 92% through this book when it dawned on me that this story is not actually about What Happened to Ruthy Ramirez but really just about the family that is left asking that question. The story is not a mystery or who dunnit type story and if you’re expecting that it likely won’t scratch that itch for you. What it is, is a beautifully raw portrait of the wreckage left behind when a family has suffered the tragedy of family separation and is left asking what happened for a decade without any answers.

The story starts ten years after 13-year-old Ruthy Ramirez disappeared and it focuses on the family she left behind - in particular her mother and two sisters. They don’t know if young Ruthy ran away, was kidnapped and is still suffering somewhere, was killed… For a decade this family has suffered. They’re angry, they’re broken, they’re dysfunctional, and they still love each other even when they get on each other’s last nerve. We see a clearer and clearer portrait of how each family member has been impacted as they struggle to decide what to do next when they’re certain they’ve spotted long-lost Ruthy Ramirez on a raunchy reality show.

Some of the critiques I’ve seen in other reviews centered on the amount of swearing. It’s not something I noticed. I thought it felt natural given their circumstances. They’re not in a healthy place, they’re angry, frustrated, and scared. After reading the reviews I questioned whether it was really that much and had to go back to the text since it was so unnoticeable to me.

I felt similarly when some reviews said they found the characters unlikeable. I was rooting for them the whole time. These are not polite, happy, well-adjusted people. They’re flawed and hurting. I found the characters relatable and I could see family members in the characters. I experienced a different kind of family separation and the loss of my sister for a 10-year period of time when I was a child. I found myself writing comments as I read “yes! Exactly!” or “That’s exactly how I felt”. I really enjoyed that each chapter switched viewpoints. I’d read a chapter from one sister’s viewpoint and really identify with that character, really empathizing and thinking her mom or other sister was so annoying, then read from the mom’s viewpoint and be so frustrated on the mom’s behalf. It really helped paint the complexity of their experiences and family dynamic for me.

I know this is supposed to be a comedy, and there were definitely moments that made me laugh, but it is definitely on the dark comedy side of things. It felt much more like a serious book with some lighthearted moments and humor peppered in so it didn’t feel overly heavy for the reader. I was emotionally invested in the outcome for these characters so the lighthearted moments helped me feel energized to keep reading rather than it feeling emotionally draining.

I would have loved for this story to be written as adult fiction instead of YA, as I would have preferred the story to be longer and take a deeper dive into their psyches and what made them tick. That’s the only thing that makes me want to give it 4 stars instead of 5 stars, but for the YA format, I think it was just right.

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Wow, this was a really intense one.

I was very intrigued by the premise and assumed it would be a mystery/thriller, but it was definitely more of a family drama. It was a very tough read and dealt with some very upsetting issues, but I found it worth it. Each of the characters was so deeply developed that I could not help enjoying this book. It doesn't wrap up neatly, but I also think that suits the subject matter well.

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A truly powerful story that will wreck and entertain readers, WHAT HAPPENED TO RUTHY RAMIREZ is an incredible debut. After Ruthy Ramirez goes missing at the age of thirteen, her disappearance affects each of her sisters and mother in irreparable ways. Years later, while watching a raunchy reality TV show, her older sister Jessica recognizes one of the girls on the show who calls herself Ruby and realizes that could be her lost sister Ruthy. After Jessica shows Nina the show, all they can think about is reconnecting with their sister.

I really appreciated how the author told this story from the viewpoints of Jessica, Nina and Dolores, Ruthy’s mother. The combination really made the story more impactful, while also bringing deep love and humor to it. The chaotic family dynamic, along with the identities of each character, created such an interesting and unique story. The story is also told from the perspective of Ruthy, before she disappeared, and the events leading up to it.

I don’t want to say too much else except that I highly recommend reading this debut novel. Beautiful, chaotic, entertaining, and incredibly powerful, WHAT HAPPENED TO RUTHY RAMIREZ may be a work of fiction but really highlights how many young girls go missing everyday.

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What Happened to Ruthy Ramirez to is a story about a family broken from the disappearance of their sister and daughter. Told from alternativing perspective of the sisters and mom, the search for their missing Ruthy leads them to a reality TV show. Conflict, humour, and attempts to reconnect as a family drive this story. It wasn't my favourite, but I don't regret reading it and the narrative arc ultimately had a really effective payoff.

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Big thanks to NetGalley and Grand Central Publishing for the eARC of What Happened to Ruthy Ramirez by Claire Jimenez in exchange for an honest review. I will be writing a review later as it's spring weather meaning that tornado sirens are going off and it's all stormy.

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I received a free copy of this book from the publisher through netgalley. I am leaving this review voluntarily.

Ruthie has been missing for years. Her older sisters still wondering what happened to her, her mother still struggling with the unknown. While tragic this is an often funny book as each of the Ramirez family struggles to make peace with Ruthys disappearance.

The bickering and fighting between them all is often laugh out loud funny. The chapters are broken up into each Ramirez member including Ruthy. You do find out what happened to her but that isn't the most important part of the book. What is important is the people who are still there. Still struggling, still finding their way.

As the family takes a road trip, the in fighting and Puerto Rican culture fly off the page. As the family pulls together to find Ruthy who they believe is on a tv reality show called "Catfight" they also reconnect and find themselves closer, revealing secrets that have long been kept hidden

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This book is so unique. People uncomfortable with profanity will be clutching their pearls with this one. People unfamiliar or uncomfortable with latin culture will not be able to relate. Luckily, I do not fall into either group and found this book to be fantastic! I loved this family and their relationships. I loved the Spanish sprinkled throughout, I loved the sarcasm, and I loved the love between the sisters and their mother.

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this book was messy. i tend to love messy books following the messy lives of messy characters. HOWEVER, this book was a whole mess. instead of what happened to ruthy i want to know what happened to the plot… the fact that you are taken on a whole ass journey thinking one thing, then finding out the truth in the last paragraphs of the book was my thirteenth reason. i wanted to fling my phone across the room. i would rather the book ending with an open ending than having this.

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First off I would like to think NetGalley for allowing me to read this ARC.

Unfortunately it wasn’t a favourite. I did read it in one day, but because I just wanted to get through it.

There wasn’t really any twists or developments in the story. It was stagnant. It focused more on Ruthys family rather than her story. I was just honestly bored. Nothing really happened.

The fact that it took until the very last chapter to find out what happened with Ruthy was bothersome. No hints through the book, just false hope and an irrelevant story line. Not only that but I didn’t really like the characters they weren’t super likeable. All very big headed, loud and obnoxious. Not my type of characters unfortunately.

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Claire Jimenez's debut book What Happened to Ruthy Ramirez was such a great read. In 1996, thirteen-year-old Ruthy Ramirez goes missing. Years later her sister Jessica is watching a reality tv show when she notices a woman (Ruby) that looks like Ruthy. The sisters Jessica and Nina, their mother Dolores, and Dolores's best friend Irene go on a road trip to find out the truth about Ruby being Ruthy. Her Puerto Rican family from Staten Island discusses life after Ruthy’s disappearance. The books discuss topics such as the family dealing with the loss of a child, the 2008 recession, and family drama, there is some humor, but most importantly it brings awareness to missing black, brown, and indigenous women in the media, systemic violence, and racism.
There are so many relatable ways this book represents the struggles that Latino families have to face on a daily. But there is also the beautiful side of having a loving relationship. This isn’t a thriller or mystery as I thought when looking at the title and reading a little bit of the summary. It is more of the aftermath and impact on a family after losing a loved one. Please check the trigger warning for this book. I recommend the book What Happened to Ruthy Ramirez.

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Ruthy Ramirez follows a Puerto Rican family who has lost their teen sister Ruthy. The book explores how each family member has reckoned with the loss of their daughter and sister. And now years later they think they may have found Ruthy on a terrible reality show called Catfight.
I enjoyed this book and it reminded me in the beginning a bit of Notes on Your Sudden Disappearance but with a lot more grit. It’s a sad book and a gut wrenching look at teenhood, the loss of a sister and how a family copes with devastating loss. There is also some social commentary on class and race.

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First off, let me say that I finished this book in a day! That barely happens to me 🤣 I needed more and more! Jiménez highlights serious topics, more prominently the topic of Latinx girls who go missing. Ruthy goes missing at the age of 13 and we follow the multiple POVs of her mother, Dolores and her two sisters, Nina and Jessica, helping us understand their thoughts and emotional journey. I felt like I could relate to all these three characters at many points in the book which I really loved. It was also very nostalgic for me in the sense that there are many cultural references that I grew up with! Jimenez was able to bring humor to the story and I found myself laughing out loud many times. She also brings home the main topic at a hand and that ending left me with my heart broken.

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Thank you @netgalley & @grandcentralpub for an ARC of this book.

Synopsis: A deeply powerful, raw debut 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 to bring her home.

I cannot begin to tell you all how much I enjoyed reading this novel! Although I found myself laughing at many points throughout the story, I can’t turn a blind eye to the pain that lurks at the end of every sentence. It’s a story of loss, familial bonds, faith, racism, cultural complexities and love.

Character development was top notch. I really liked that we are told the story from the points of view of multiple characters, including Ruthy’s. For me, it added a deeper layer that tied the story together nicely.

I’ve said it before that it takes a lot for me to emotionally connect to a book, so I’m always pleasantly surprised when a book makes me feel something. This book did that. It’s a fantastic debut!

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