Molly Bolt is a nobody from Pennsylvania, and doesn’t want to leave the only home she knows when her adoptive parents tell her they’re moving to Florida. In Florida, though, Molly discovers that she might be a lesbian, and she wants to be a world famous movie director.
Why this book?: Assigned reading for my Queer Lit class.
I honestly don’t know what to say about this book. Rubyfruit Jungle began in a way that I knew I would ultimately love. Molly, the protagonist, told stories about her childhood, which were hilarious, and I just couldn’t get over how strong of a character and woman Molly was. As she grew older, Molly retained her fiery personality, no matter how her family reacted towards her. And, considering how much her adoptive mother hated her, I was pleasantly surprised when Molly didn’t let her mother’s words get her down. She was a strong character, and continued to be a strong character throughout the story.
But . . It got weird at points. I don’t mean a good weird either, I mean a very, very, bad weird.
These weird scenes didn’t start happening until Molly made it to New York, but up until then I was greatly enjoying the story. Molly was a strong female character, who knew she was a lesbian and didn’t care what others thought when she said she was a lesbian. At some point though, Molly got too intent on the fact that she was a lesbian, and practically forced it on others. She wanted to sleep with an older woman, and when the older woman resisted, Molly forced herself on her, until she submitted and had sex with Molly. After this happened, the book then framed this all as the older woman’s fault, and as a personal problem to Molly.
Jumping off of that point, Molly eventually started sleeping with the daughter of that woman, who was apparently staring at her daughter in a way that made the daughter think her mom wanted to sleep with her. And then they started talking about incest, and what circumstances were okay. (They decided that if both parties were both consenting and over 15, incest was okay.) These scenes really turned me around, because despite Molly being a strong character . . . she was repulsive as a person.
Final Rating: ★★☆☆☆
I was really gearing up for this book to be something I enjoyed, for it to be something that was groundbreaking and that I wanted others to read. I ended up loathing this book, and the ideas that it promoted. I was so shocked when these scenes happened, that I almost didn’t finish the book in time.
Would I Recommend?
Probably not. Maybe if you want to read historical queer novels, then go ahead, but TW for incest mention, rape, parental abuse, and death.
Published: January 1st, 1973
Publisher: Daughters Pub Co.
Page Count: 193
Synopsis: via Goodreads
“Rubyfruit Jungle” is an evocative story of growing up gay in America. Molly Bolt wants only one thing — to be allowed to be herself. Adopted as an infant, she never quite fits in with her home town of Coffee Hollow, Pennsylvania. Her mother wants her to put aside books and learn how to can fruit; Molly wants to slip away to the woods and teach her girlfriend how to kiss. After Molly is dismissed from college for having an affair with her roommate, she hitchhikes to New York City, where she thinks one more lesbian won’t rock the boat. From the beginning Molly captures hearts, and she decides to become the greatest filmmaker ever. Published in 1973, this triumphant story of a young woman’s blossoming into adulthood created a sensation.”