Book Review: Saving Ruby King

SAVING RUBY KING | Catherine Adel West
06.16.2020 | Park Row
Rating: 5/5 stars


The world always finds a way of coming full circle. When Ruby King’s mother is found murdered in their home on Chicago’s South Side, the police brush the case aside and file it away as another act of violence in a Black neighborhood. Ruby is devastated by the loss of her mother, the community’s response, and the prospect of living life alone with her abusive father. Ruby’s best friend, Layla, is there for her every step of the way and desperately wants to help Ruby escape. Their friendship is put to the ultimate test as Layla’s father, the pastor of the local church, repeatedly steps in to stop Layla from interfering. What is the price for turning a blind eye?


SAVING RUBY KING just snuck up on me and landed itself straight onto my favorite reads of 2020 list! This book just absolutely delivered in every possible way, from brilliant characters, an engaging plot, and an emotional punch I didn’t see coming.

Catherine Adel West has carefully created a dynamic between two families within SAVING RUBY KING. I knew that they were going to be connected when I saw the family timelines in the beginning of the book, but what I didn’t expect was such an intricately woven web of connections. There are generational connections that draw all of our narrators together to show how friendship and family can so profoundly impact our lives in even the most minute ways. 


SAVING RUBY KING is told from the perspective of five narrators: Ruby, Lebanon (Ruby’s father), Layla, Jackson (Layla’s father), and the church. It’s so hard to pick a favorite narrative in this book because they all provided something unique and necessary to make the story flow. I was particularly drawn to the narrative of the church, as it was a bit of an “if these walls could talk” narrative. West actually gifts the reader the church as a character who is able to provide a multitude of backstory and present day reflections that give the reader an outside perspective to our narrators. Lebanon, Ruby’s father, also drew me in deeply during his narration. He’s the quintessential character that has been judged over the years for the choices he has made. While he is certainly not a perfect man, there are these incredible moments of hope where the reader can feel Lebanon wanting so much more for himself and his family.

My emotions were taken on an incredible journey throughout SAVING RUBY KING. I found myself laughing, crying, horrified, and full of so much hope for the characters that I never wanted the story to end. This is one of those books that will stick with me for a long time to come. It is a book that I will recommend to countless people to understand the importance of family, friendship, and self identity. West stole my heart with this book and I cannot wait to read whatever she comes up with next!

This book is available to buy from: Amazon | Book Depository

Disclosure: What Jess Reads is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to This in no way influences my opinion of the above book.

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