Author: Kit Masters

ISBN: 1478391561

Publisher: Create Space

Although he maintains that his novel Ruta is fictional, it is clear that Kit Master’s is intimately familiar with the book’s subject matter.

Told from the perspective of a once optimistic but now disenchanted teacher, Ruta illuminates some of the frustrations and disappointments faced by many teachers today. Classrooms full of apathetic students, behavioral problems, and in some cases sociopathic tendencies, drive many a teacher running, screaming from the profession regretting ever having made the choice to teach. It is into this setting that we watch as the teacher, despite his ever increasing dislike of his career choice, finds a bright spot in the form of a young Lithuanian girl named Ruta. Eager to learn and to please, Ruta stands in stark contrast to the attention seeking, thieving, ill tempered “lumps” in the class and it is easy to see why he becomes fixated on her.

More than just a story about an increasingly neurotic teacher working in a failing public school, Ruta highlights the narrator’s need to tell his story as way of sorting out and moving forward with his life. He lets us know that he does not enjoy writing this story; in fact, he has avoided it because- “I know how it ends...”

As the reader follows the narrator on his journey, much is learned about the inner workings of his mind through the numerous sketches carefully placed throughout the book. The sketches represent the narrator’s interpretations of famous works and they speak volumes about his chaotic and at times fragile mental state. The sketches and the accompanying text prime the reader for the chapter that follows. The narrator wants us to see as well as read about his experiences and to that end, he is careful to point out why his interpretations of famous works look as they do.

The author has gone through great pains to create a well rounded story introducing juvenile characters that are at times loveable and at other times despicable. Behaviors such as attention seeking, stealing, and fighting give the story an element of reality that readers involved in the public school systems on both sides of the Atlantic will be able to easily identify with. Issues of class, social status, and abuse touch the lives of the children in different ways and the narrator reflects on how these affect the children’s behaviors and views of themselves. Carefully outlining the different ‘types’ of students present in the school, the author paints a picture of the cultural differences that often drive the behavior of the students and gives his thoughts as to how these children might fair in life as adults. Forced to act as a parent, therapist, and teacher, the narrator struggles to make sense of the changes to society that threaten dismal prospects for the future.

In the end, the narrator reiterates his belief that he was never the right fit for that school at that time. The reader leaves this fictional world uncertain of the fate of the narrator or the children and it’s just as well. Ruta is not meant to have a happy ever after ending.

The author’s effective use of first person perspective, self analysis, and careful reflections will draw readers into Ruta and hold them there perhaps even causing them to cast suspicion upon the assertion that the story is fictional.

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