Matthew Hennessey at City Journal has written a terrific review of The Little Way Of Ruthie Leming. Excerpt:
Family is hard. That’s the message at the heart of The Little Way of Ruthie Leming, Rod Dreher’s book about his sister’s death from lung cancer at 43 and his subsequent decision to return to his (and Ruthie’s) hometown in rural Louisiana. In the hands of a less talented writer, this might have been only a grief-fueled beatification of a life taken too soon. Dreher’s searching book is much more than that.
I found myself choking back sobs as I read about Ruthie’s illness and her struggle to survive. My mother died of cancer and, as with Dreher and Ruthie, an invisible wall had gone up between us in the years before her death. Like Dreher, I left my hometown because I thought it too small to hold my dreams. Like Dreher, I realized, too late, that when things go wrong there is no substitute for family.
This is an important book, shot through with Dreher’s penetrating intellect and cultural commentary. Some reviewers have interpreted Dreher’s relocation as an embrace of small-town, conservative values. But The Little Way of Ruthie Leming is also extraordinary because it does something that few books even try to attempt: it offers a plausible way out of the postmodern alienation and ironic posturing that has for too long informed my generation’s warped notions of the good life.
Read the whole thing. Thank you, Matthew Hennessey!