Queer Book Review: Rubyfruit Jungle by Rita Mae Brown

An image states, queer book review, Rubyfruit Jungle, Rita Mae Brown.

Queer book review! All reviews touch on genre/plot, tropes (if any), and quality of gay content. Includes both spoiler and spoiler-lite versions. Catch up on my last book review of Coffee Will Make You Black by April Sinclair.

Light Spoilers

Genre/Plot

Rubyfruit Jungle is the witty queer coming-of-age novel with 60s/70s roots that you need to tackle next. In this story, everyday life makes all attempts to make sure our protagonist has a miserable time becoming the thing she was born to be: a married woman with kids. Only thing is, she is less than willing to give up her dreams to be whoever she wants to be. The book gives a greatly detailed look into what queer culture might’ve been at the time. (I wouldn’t know because I’m not that old yet, but I certainly buy into it.)

Characters/Relationships

This book is worth it just for the first-person narration from our main character, Molly, an adopted “bastard” child who actually uses the lesbian title even in the 70s. She is hilarious, both rational and irrational, and refuses to let the world tell her who she’s going to be. In fewer words, a badass.

This is not a love story. Molly loves women, and that is part of her journey, but if you’re here for a love story, this isn’t it. A few women in the book become party of Molly’s story, but make no mistake, there is only one star of the show. Most of these side characters have “straight” yet flexible sexualities. You know the ones I mean. Sorority sisters who drink too much.

Gay Content

The time period (60s/70s) presents issues with Molly’s sexuality, which begins undefined for some time until she adopts the label “lesbian.” However, Molly herself never deals with internalized homophobia and combats homophobia with a “fuck off then” attitude because her self-pride (in every aspect) is far more important. Lots of side characters are homophobic and/or deal with internalized homophobia.

Spoilers Ahead

Another happy reporting of no lesbian deaths. Unfortunately, Molly’s love life has many endings, mostly dealing with women who want to be to experiment with women or refuse to acknowledge they could be on the queer spectrum. This even includes a queer boy in Molly’s life.

Coming Up Next

My next book review will be for Lies We Tell Ourselves by Robin Talley.

Have you read Rubyfruit Jungle? What did you think? Like this post if you’re going to add it to your reading list!

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