THE BOOK OF REUBEN by Tabitha King

THE BOOK OF REUBEN

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KIRKUS REVIEW

King (One on One, 1992, etc.) makes yet another trip to the Maine setting of four previous novels to wring a last drop of small-town life from a Nodd's Ridge long ago milked dry. This time, the focus is on Reuben Styles, whom King fans will recognize as Sam's father in One on One and Pearl's husband in Pearl. Here, as the hulking, hard-working son of an abusive farm owner, he's teetering on the brink of adulthood at the start of the Vietnam War. But he becomes a man before his time when his father, who's secretly dying of cancer, commits suicide, and he has to quit basketball at Greenspark Academy and take on more hours at the local garage to support his mother. Although work interferes with drinking beers with his friends at the quarry and chasing after his beautiful classmate Laura, it also enables him to buy the garage when he graduates from high school and to reap the benefits of the attentions of a voluptuous, alcoholic widow who spends summers on the lake with her two precocious children and her oft-neglected Cadillac. The affair ends when her eldest catches the two of them in flagrante delicto. Then her youngest gets shot, and everyone knows that it was no accident, despite the official ruling. Reuben now has hope for a normal life. He and Laura get together, marry, and manage to have three kids despite Laura's distaste for sex. Then Reuben turns to alcohol, telling himself he can handle her rejection since he's so in love. But when Laura turns to God and the arms of the fire-and-brimstone spouting preacher, leaves him in the name of Christ, empties his bank accounts, and steals his children, Reuben must face facts and fight back. Pulp fiction parading as an in-depth look at rural life. Exhaustingly hip with endless music quotes, an interracial relationship, bisexuality, and sex scandals.

Pub Date: Sept. 12th, 1994
Page count: 432pp
Publisher: Dutton