So, earlier today I promised that I would share some thoughts on the book I shared with you guys. It’s called Gifts of the Peramangk and was written by Dean Mayes.
The book follows two different stories at once. It tells the story of young Ruby in the present day, while going back to the 50s to tell her grandmother’s story as well. They each have difficult upbringings, while also sharing a special talent. Ruby also looks almost exactly like her grandmother when she was younger.
I admit, I had a hard time getting into the book at first. I’m not sure why, but once I got past the first few chapters, It really began to flow and command my attention. In fact, I was tempted one night to stay up all night to finish it, cause I was nearing the end and was anxious to find out what happens. Unfortunately, I had to get up early the next day.
If you didn’t see the previous post, Ruby lives in a house of chaos. Her grandmother (Virginia) is slowly deteriorating mentally, while her uncle drinks constantly. He’s verbally and physically abusive to the family and the aunt is too busy working all the time to support them to do much about it. At the same time, her cousin is in danger of being lost to a gang.
Through it all, Ruby has a savior: music. She came across her grandmother’s old violin several years before and the older woman decided to teach her everything she’s learned. This leads Ruby to an amazing opportunity while also stirring memories of a troubled past for Virginia. Virginia was taken from her mother at a young age and made to work for a violent land owner. One really bad attack costs her her eye and lands the young woman in an equally abusive home run by nuns.
I couldn’t help but get angry as I read of Virginia being taken from a happy home filled with friends and love to “protect” her from supposed malnurishment. You know that some children do really need protection and help, but you can’t help but wonder how many more would be better off if the government would just stay out of their business. You can’t help but feel Virginia’s anger and be moved by the effect it has on her and her family as she grows up.
The book also moved me as a music fan because of the significant role it plays. Through Virginia’s abuse and the turbulence of Ruby’s current home life, music is their saving grace. It helps them escape the pain they feel and gives them a sense of pride in themselves that little in their lives does. Can it also lead to a better life for them all?
I recommend this book for adult audiences who enjoy a story filled with emotion that poses some real questions.