Karen D. McIntyre
Ruby Malcolm is travelling home on a bus after having lost her teaching job in the midst of Virginia’s Great Depression of 1932. Having reached Roanoke, she is kidnapped there by two rogues who take her to their rural farm house and savagely rape and beat her, then drug her into a state of unconsciousness. After she is beaten into compliance, Ruby manages to survive amidst a growing awareness that the two men are also enslaving other girls who bunk with her in the henhouse which becomes her new home. Meanwhile, Tom and Lida, Ruby’s parents, search for her but no one has seen her. After witnessing unspeakable acts of horror perpetrated on the other girls, including young ones vanishing in the woods never to be seen again, Ruby experiences a numbness which will be her only salvation against a hopeless situation.
Though at times hard to read in its unrelenting scenes of violence towards women, the author paints a strong picture of sex slavery within the historical context of the Great Depression. Ruby Malcom is a heroine readers root for, and she encounters many twists and turns in her plight to gain freedom not only for herself, but also the other girls who are caught in the sex ring and brothel. The novel
illuminates the corruption of a sheriff who takes advantage of the girls, tearing apart the trust of a community and destroying the lives of innocent young women. Ruby’s story is a tale of times long past, but it resonates with such currency that readers know it could—and does—happen in today’s world.