From the moment I first saw the beginnings of Ruth Tiger’s writings,
before it was even titled The Away Place
and it was in a place where the
characters were still unfolding, I knew that it was going to evolve into a book
of great importance. Here was a
story written first hand, yet changed and fictionalized, about those with
little voice, who went from institutions in the 1970’s to smaller group homes,
where they could begin to live life more fully, and delight us with their
personalities, quirks, joy, and courage.
What Tiger does best is to immediately bring us into the mind and lives
of these individuals with severe disabilities, until, in a few short pages, we
are smitten by their endearing traits and love, and begin to root for John,
Lonnie, Crazy Henry, Betsy, and others.
This is not to imply that the scenes and characters are sugar coated,
for this themed writing that was actually lived and observed, includes much
tragedy, setbacks, and sorrow, reminding us again and again, that this is what
it was truly like for many disabled people who found themselves liberated in
the 70’s. And being true to
life, quite a few not so engaging, perhaps even evil, somewhat unredeemable
characters, are also found, lurking around.
I must also say
something about the ending of the book, without trying to give it away…Tiger
weaves a masterpiece of intrigue and hope at the end, not expected, yet, one
feels that, “Ah, yes,” it had to
end this way, when all is said and done.
Anyone reading The Away Place will come away with a greater understanding of
what it was like for people with disabilities during this time of our country’s
history, for it is a story Tiger tells well and powerfully, until after meeting
John and Sarah, and making them part of our lives, we will never be the same again.
March 7, 2010
The Away Place captivated my heart, my mind and my time. Once started, I found it difficult to put the book down. John captured my attention with endearment and also I was anxious for his safety. You brought us (the readers) right into the lives and drama of the experience and the pursuit of a loving environment for these "young" men. I particularly enjoyed the language of the men, especially John, that you portrayed perfectly and which enhanced the intimacy of your novel.
Linda Tiger, writer
The Away Place by Ruth Tiger
depicts characters such as John and Lonnie who have Down’s Syndrome and the
beauty their humanity brings to Sarah a doctoral student who creates their
group home with the hope of integrating them into society. Ms. Tiger understands the language and
spirit of these special people we label as uneducable. And when a tragedy occurs, we are left
to ponder how we fail the purest of heart in our midst. And we fall in love.
Patricia Wright, Ph.D.
In this superbly crafted first
novel, The Away Place, Ruth Tiger, my friend, opens a door to a world
with which not many of us have even a casual familiarity. This is a world where
developmentally disabled adults endeavor to motor through their days, days that
are mostly managed by others, some who are caring and some not so. This is a story that is layered
with reality. As the characters evolve, they do attract at first a reluctant
kinship. Even though we
acknowledge right away that these characters do not fit into ‘normal,’ we
eventually recognize that we do, indeed, share their desires to love and be
loved, to belong, to have a purpose, to have a place. We are bump along with them in the day-to-day of their lives,
and these times are, unfortunately, not always pretty. Reality in The Away Place
unfolds with a sensitivity that enriches our understanding of the challenges
facing these folks. Ruth Tiger’s
characters are like the people in our community whom we have not met and whom
we too often have tried to ignore.
Also shared within our community are the “caretakers,” people who care
for and care about, those society might call ‘normal,’ who come with their own
foibles. Ruth has mastered the weaving of relationships and revelations with an
energy that, through her characters’ lives, rekindles our own yearnings to be
treated with dignity and caring and to share with others our own joy and
sadness, tragedy and triumph, courage and confusion and laughter, too. Thoughts
of John and his story in The Away Place linger even after we have closed
the cover of this novel, even after we have placed our copy in the hands of a
friend who has asked, “Have you read any good books lately?”
Sheryl Rogel, English Instructor