There is an awful epidemic in this country of missing brown and Black girls. We don’t always hear about it, but we know it’s happening. In a stunning debut from Claire Jimenez, What Happened to Ruthy Ramirez gives us a look into the aftermath of a loved one’s disappearance and what it means to grieve a loss you don’t understand.
When Ruthy Ramirez was thirteen years old, she disappeared without a trace, leaving her family confused and broken in the aftermath. One late night twelve years later, oldest sister Jessica spots a woman on a reality TV show and frantically rushes to tell her youngest sister Nina to tune in. The woman has dyed red hair and calls herself Ruby, but the beauty mark under her left eye is instantly recognizable. Could it really be Ruthy after all this time? Jessica and Nina hatch a plan to find Ruthy and bring her back without getting their mother’s hopes up, but when Dolores catches wind of the plan, the Ramirez women (with Dolores’ holier-than-thou friend Irene) go on a family road trip that will either end in closure or heartbreak.
Reading the description of this book gave me immediate chills and I knew I needed to be in the right headspace to read it. As a parent, what happened to the Ramirez family is one of my greatest fears. Claire was able to carefully navigate the delicacies of a story like this in a way that was both hauntingly raw and nonchalantly funny.
The story is told from multiple POVs, giving us an insight into each of the Ramirez women throughout the journey to get to Ruthy/Ruby. Each voice is perfectly executed and incredibly distinct from the other, never causing me to question which Ramirez woman was speaking. Writing from the voice of a single character is hard enough, but to effortlessly switch between so many different characters is a feat that should be shouted about from all the rooftops.
This story of the Ramirez family paints with broad strokes that begins the conversation surrounding the immense number of women that are missing while also exploring themes of trauma and systemic racism. Though the heavy nature of the story keeps us somber, we get moments of humor sprinkled through at just the right times.
Get your copy here and find out What Happened to Ruthy Ramirez for yourself (then go hug your loved ones because you'll really want to hug your loved ones).
Disclaimer: I received an advanced copy of this book from the publisher for free and have voluntarily written this review. If you purchase a copy using my Bookshop affiliate link above, not only will I receive a small commission (which will fuel my coffee and tea addiction and help to keep me up all night reading more books to recommend to you), but you will be supporting indie bookstores as well!