Why must women continuously go through pain and suffering in order to be strong? Why are we never offered literature in which a female is immediately strong and brave and courageous and wild from the very moment she comes into existence? While I love a great story of a female who finds within herself the will to overcome adversity, can’t I just get a little girlhood toughness every now and again?
I think this is why I absolutely loved Rita Mae Brown’s Rubyfruit Jungle. Because from the very moment Molly Bolt is introduced to us as a young girl, she is a bolt of lighting ready to tear down the pages. At seven years old she discovers that her friend Broccoli has a funny looking penis and sees it as the perfect opportunity to make some money. By manipulating her classmates into thinking that a getting a look, or a touch, of a funny looking penis is pay worthy, we are introduced to the genius ruthlessness that is Molly bolt.
This novel is a coming of age story. As it progresses we are given snippets of Molly’s life as she enters adulthood. We see her go through grade school, high school, college, and finally move to New York where she peruses a career in film. Yet growing older and passing through the stages of life do not take away Molly’s character. She remains the same witty and amusing woman she’s always been. She encounters constant discrimination due to her gender and sexuality but refuses to apologize for who she is. She remains loyal to herself.
This loyalty is what sets this novel apart. It’s what makes Molly so special. Aren’t all little girls born fierce and powerful? Don’t we all have rough edges? But we change. Our character is polished and shinned. It’s made suitable for “civilized” society. We become who girls are supposed to be. What would happen if we choose to remain loyal instead? Choose to pick ourselves wholly and viciously? Maybe we should all be a little more like Molly.
Although this is a coming of age story, the pace of the novel is written quite well. I usually find these types of novels difficult and frustrating to read. I often get bored by the spasms of slow pacing that often occurs for the sake of character development. However, perhaps because Molly is such a believably wild individual, the novel moves at a steady enjoyable pace. I highly recommend everyone pick up this book and discover the character of Molly Bolt.
P.S. I simply adore the cover art on my edition of the book. There is a boldness to it that I think resonates well in a way past editions have not.