Leaving is Richard Dry's debut novel and it is excellent!!
It is the story of Ruby Washington's family - three generations and their actions and reactions to survive against all odds.
In 1959, Ruby, poor and pregnant, hastily leaves small town South Carolina for Oakland, California with her younger half brother
in tow. She moves in with her father and his lover and finds work as a seamstress. Dry then blends in the political
and social happenings of the time and we watch how Ruby struggles to hold her family together despite racism, incest, domestic
violence, and the influx of drugs in the community.
Weighing in at 450 pages,
Dry gives the reader a lot to consider. The interrelationships of the characters are complex and engaging. Dry
provides up close and personal perspectives of the movement through the eyes of a college age Easton when he ventures south
to participate in a Civil Rights march in Selma, Alabama. Another supporting character embodies the Black Panther philosophies;
Lida (Ruby's daughter) resorts to prostitution to support a drug habit; Love (Ruby's grandson) grows up with heroin-addicted
parents and experiences the juvenile justice system. Every character has a unique voice/view and a heartbreaking story,
which Dry tells with compelling realism. Interweaved within the story are historical (factual) citations and references
that shaped race relations and influenced the Black experience in America.
Dry writes with conviction
and purpose as evidenced in the title reference and the theme of "leaving" is echoed in the character's actions, a few
examples are: Rubys exodus from South Carolina is necessary to avoid racial violence; whereas Love escapes to the same
South Carolina to avoid the ills of urban gang life. Lida's choice to leave Ruby's home is a result of her fleeing pain
and unresolved issues; Marcus (Lida's husband) leaves for three years to launch a musical career, etc.
This book was simply a good read the characters and plot were well developed; pacing was sound and the story moved
quickly (which made the 450 pages easier to digest).
The Nubian Circle Book
Club rating for Leaving is 4.5 stars out of 5 stars.