From the back cover:
Ragdoll House is the story of two girls who must decide if their hometown is still their home. Ruby, a shy sometimes-writer, meets Maria, a femme dyke with a painful past, when she responds to a roommate wanted ad. Exploring girl-friendship and survival as queer, weird girls in a small town, they share an apartment that once functioned as a home for lost girls. As they struggle with their own secrets and losses, Ruby and Maria rely on coffee, booze, and each other, to learn about jealousy, support, and letting go.
Maranda Elizabeth‘s novel is probably everything I could want in a story, but the details that worked the most for me were the characters. Ragdoll House’s Ruby and Maria are two girls I can relate to on some level, even in the smallest ways, making me automatically invested in their story, and it simply kept me reading for the sake of cheering them on. I wanted them to be happy best friends. I wanted to have their friendship. And while a lot of people would probably try to pass themselves off as a cool Maria, spunky, loving, and strong, let’s be honest: I sure as hell feel more like Ruby–introverted, hoping to be friends with this cool girl, and trying to understand adult life.
But Ruby isn’t all about shy glances and hiding out in her room; she has a life. She has feelings and experiences, and she connected with people in ways that made me sometimes smile and other times want to punch people in the face for being, shall we say, rude to her. (Except they’re fictional, so I can’t punch them, which is slightly disappointing.) At the same time, though, this tells me that Maranda did something right in their character development, creating someone I would want to protect as a friend; I have a tendency to get defensive and protective of my non-fictional friends, and they made Ruby real enough to garner that same affection from me.
Maria isn’t without her own interesting character traits, either. As the book progresses, Maranda begins to show Maria’s past and how it’s building to create the somewhat sad, yet understandable, end to the novel. With most of the book told from Ruby’s (first-person) point of view, we don’t necessarily see inside Maria’s head as much, but we still begin to understand why she is who she is–through conversations, back story, and her own (third-person) chapters. Additionally, I found the first-person/third-person switch to be a really cool, interesting move because it’s not something I see much. Plenty of authors will write chapters from various points of view, but they always have the same narration style in terms of first or third-person.
Essentially, I loved these characters (and plenty others, like their landlady). I wanted to spend nights hanging out with them. I wanted to have sleepovers with them, sharing secrets in bed and comforting each other like Maria and Ruby did. I honestly think this book resonates with me so much because I don’t have a relationship quite like theirs with another lady friend, as much as I would love to. Their relationship’s not perfect, and they do fight, if you were wondering and worrying that it was rainbows all around, but that makes it all the more realistic.
For me, this was a book that I loved when I finished it, but came to truly adore as it sunk in days after. The day after finishing, I already found myself wanting to read it again. My only complaint? I wish it were longer so I could spend more time with Ruby and Maria. But I guess I’ll just have to settle for rereading it.
You can get Maranda’s book via Etsy.