What is it?
This a virtual book club that meets to discuss writing from different genres written by and/or about LGBTQ+ people. This is a space book club for open discussion, literary analysis, political discourse, and chatting centering on exciting contemporary and older books. The book list is still in formation (share your book recommendations by joining), however, we will be reading literary fiction, history, fantasy, sci-fi, romance, and more.
This is a Q & T program run through Word Up Community Bookshop/Librería Comunitaria and facilitated by Memphis Washington.
We’ll send you the zoom information once you are signed up!
When: Every last Tuesday of the Month @ 7pm
Where: Zoom (register to receive the link)
Each book is discussed once in a monthly session.
April Meeting Information:
When & Where: Tuesday, April 25th at 7pm on Zoom
Reading: What Happened to Ruthy Ramirez by Claire Jimenez
Facilitators: Memphis Washington
Discussion Questions & Topics (more details to come)
- What do you think of the reality TV show parts (Catfight)?
- How does each character’s experience of being a mother and/or a daughter affect their perspective of what happened to Ruthy?
- Discuss the ways that each woman attempts to heal, and protect themselves.
These are only meant to start the conversation. There may be some special conversations or activities for this month! Also, please come up with your own questions and bookmark passages you might want to discuss! Content warnings below the “About the Author Section”
About What Happened to Ruthy Ramirez
A powerful debut novel that’s “hilarious, heartbreaking, and ass-kicking” (Jamie Ford), of a Puerto Rican family in Staten Island who discovers their long‑missing sister is potentially alive and cast on a reality TV show, and they set out to bring her home.
The Ramirez women of Staten Island orbit around absence. When thirteen‑year‑old middle child Ruthy disappeared after track practice without a trace, it left the family scarred and scrambling. One night, twelve years later, oldest sister Jessica spots a woman on her TV screen in Catfight, a raunchy reality show. She rushes to tell her younger sister, Nina: This woman’s hair is dyed red, and she calls herself Ruby, but the beauty mark under her left eye is instantly recognizable. Could it be Ruthy, after all this time?
The years since Ruthy’s disappearance haven’t been easy on the Ramirez family. It’s 2008, and their mother, Dolores, still struggles with the loss, Jessica juggles a newborn baby with her hospital job, and Nina, after four successful years at college, has returned home to medical school rejections and is forced to work in the mall folding tiny bedazzled thongs at the lingerie store.
After seeing maybe‑Ruthy on their screen, Jessica and Nina hatch a plan to drive to where the show is filmed in search of their long‑lost sister. When Dolores catches wind of their scheme, she insists on joining, along with her pot-stirring holy roller best friend, Irene. What follows is a family road trip and reckoning that will force the Ramirez women to finally face the past and look toward a future—with or without Ruthy in it.
What Happened to Ruthy Ramirez is a vivid family portrait, in all its shattered reality, exploring the familial bonds between women and cycles of generational violence, colonialism, race, and silence, replete with snark, resentment, tenderness, and, of course, love.
About the Author
Claire Jiménez is a Puerto Rican writer who grew up in Brooklyn and Staten Island. She is the author of the short story collection Staten Island Stories, which received the 2019 Hornblower Award for a first book from the New York Society Library and was named a finalist for the International Latino Book Awards, a New York Public Library Favorite Book about New York, and Best Latino Book of 2019 by NBC News. She received her MFA from Vanderbilt University and her PhD from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. In 2020, she cofounded the Puerto Rican Literature Project, a digital archive. Currently she is an Assistant Professor of English and African American Studies at the University of South Carolina. Her fiction, essays, and reviews have appeared in Remezcla, AfroHispanic Review, PANK, The Rumpus, and Eater, among other publications. What Happened to Ruthy Ramirez is her debut novel.
If you have any questions, comments, or concerns, please share them with Memphis at QNTCommunity@gmail.com
Content Warnings: explicit language, violence, discussion of bodily fluids, racism, misogyny, alcohol and drug usage