printed copy

Robin And Ruby

K.M. Soehnlein

ISBN 9780758232199
Publish Date 3/29/2011
Format Trade Paperback
Categories Kensington, Fiction
Currently out of stock

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At twenty-years-old, Robin MacKenzie is waiting for his life to start. Waiting until his summer working at a Philly restaurant is over and he’s back with his boyfriend Peter…until the spring semester when he’ll travel to London for an acting program…until the moment when the confidence he fakes starts to feel real.

“Engaging…capturing intimately the mood of the period.” –Publishers Weekly

Then, one hot June weekend, Robin gets dumped by his boyfriend and quickly hits the road with his best friend George to find his teenaged sister, Ruby, who’s vanished from a party at the Jersey Shore.

“A fresh, eloquent perspective to the oft-writ story of sexual and romantic coming of age.” –Book Marks

But Ruby is on an adventure of her own, dressing in black, declaring herself an atheist, pulling away from the boyfriend she doesn’t love—not the way she loves the bands whose fractured songs are the soundtrack to her life. Then a chance encounter puts Ruby in pursuit of a seductive but troubled boy who might be the key to her happiness, or a disaster waiting to happen. Now as their paths converge, Ruby and Robin will confront the sadness of their shared past and rebuild the bonds that still run deep…

“Lush…bittersweet…two characters who gleefully leap off the page.” –Bay Area Reporter

About K.M. Soehnlein:

K.M. Soehnlein is the author of The World Of Normal Boys (2000), winner of the Lambda Award for Gay Men's Fiction; You Can Say You Knew Me When (2005), praised by The L.A. Times as "a dense, enjoyable read, like one of those famed Beat road trips: pedal to the metal until the next inspired digression"; and the Robin And Ruby (2010), a sequel to The World of Normal Boys set during one eventful weekend in the summer of 1985. His novels have been translated into Italian and Czech.

His stories and essays have appeared in the anthologies Girls Who Like Boys Who Like Boys; Boys To Men: Gay Men Write About Growing Up; Love, Castro Street; and Bookmark Now: Writing In Unreaderly Times. His journalism has appeared in Out, The Village Voice, San Francisco Magazine and more.

The World of Normal Boys is currently in development with Telling Pictures, the production company of Oscar-winners Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman (co-directors of Howl, starring James Franco, premiering at the 2010 Sundance Film Festival). Soehnlein, a former editor of the independent film magazine, Release Print, is also in development with Hawaii-based Makai Pictures on an original screenplay set in Tokyo, Hong Kong, Hawaii and San Francisco.

Raised in New Jersey, K.M. Soehnlein now lives in San Francisco, where he teaches creative writing at the University of San Francisco and enjoys life with his husband, Kevin Clarke.



This is a novel about a brother and a sister. How would you describe their relationship? How do Robin and Ruby seem alike? How do they seem different from each other? Do their separate stories share any common themes?

The story is set in the summer of 1985. Which scenes in the story made this time period come alive for you? How do social issues or news events shape the lives of the characters in this book?

The entire novel takes place during the weekend when Jackson, Robin and Ruby’s deceased younger brother, would have turned 18. How does Jackson’s death influence the events of the story?

The book opens with the line, “Sometimes life throws you a job that you’re not yet ready to do.” What kinds of challenges is Robin forced to face, and how does he deal with them, over the course of the novel?

Robin and George have been friends for years, and have never had sex before. Why do you think it finally happened at this time? What emotions and tensions arise after their first night together?

Why does Robin decide to look for Ruby? Why does George agree to go with him?

We meet Ruby a couple years after she has stopped believing in God, though she still finds herself praying (“the leftover habit of prayer”). How do questions of belief and faith emerge throughout Ruby’s story? Does she come to terms with these questions?

Ruby makes a choice to leave Calvin for Chris. Do you think she made a good choice? As Ruby spends more time with Chris, and gets to know him better, did you feelings for him change?

What kind of person is Calvin? Did you see Calvin differently by the end of the book than at the beginning?

Ruby’s sexual history is revealed slowly to the reader, and she doesn’t always tell the truth to other characters. Why do you think she has so much conflict and secrecy around her sexuality?

When Ruby is with Alice and their crowd, she “feels like a soft, small toy batted around by enormous paws in a room filled with cats.” Later, she asks them, “Why are you all so mean to me?” What do you think is the answer to that question?

When Robin and Ruby return to Greenlawn, they are confronted by their parents, Dorothy and Clark. How would you describe Robin’s relationships to his parents, compared to Ruby’s? What about Clark and Dorothy’s relationship to each other?

Back in his childhood bedroom, Robin reads from an old diary and comes to the conclusion that he needs more “courage, for what comes next.” What do you imagine comes next for Robin? What will he need courage for? What might the future hold for Robin and George?

After her final phone call with Chris, Ruby thinks, “And in this moment her entire life realigns. What matters and what doesn’t.” What do you think matters to Ruby at the end of the book? What kind of future will she have, if any, with Chris?

Robin and Ruby is a sequel to The World of Normal Boys. If you’ve read that book, were you surprised by what happened to Robin, Ruby, Dorothy and Clark in the years that have passed? Did their lives turn out like you imagined?

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