Book Jacket

 

rank 1423
word count 12390
date submitted 20.03.2012
date updated 19.01.2013
genres: Fiction, Literary Fiction
classification: moderate
complete

Rūta

Kit Masters

Rūta is growing up in a failing school and a failing society.
There is nothing I can do to help her.

 

Arriving to small town England from Lithuania at the age of six the world must've seemed inconceivably large to Rūta.
At that age she wouldn't have needed promise, wouldn't have understood prosperity, but she was going with her mum and leaving her dad behind.

Rūta lives in a dilapidated street in the centre of town and takes the bus to a failing comprehensive school, the world becomes alarmingly small for her.

Unreliable teachers and warring factions trouble the narrator, impotent as the staff lose control.

This book is an insight into life for teens growing up in British schools.
Danger controversy and dilemma abound around carefully created characters.
A sympathetic narrator, who fights for breath in the turmoil around him, leads you through his world.

 
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tags

art, cowardice, depression, fight, guilt, honesty, immigration, school, shame, teacher, tension

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16 comments

 

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tojo wrote 712 days ago

Have read all the chapters (in awe) speaking for myself only, the first chapter confused me, but after reading all and through to the end of chapter 5 understood the need for it. This book resonates with me so closely. Around the 1970s I was 30 years plus, the stupid liberals won and had abolished all discipline in schools. I screamed you ass holes, in twenty years you will only have animals not children, I am not pleased to have been shown correct. In 2005 I retired at 65 and sold my poor terrace house, I did not leave England I ran, fled in terror to Portugal which is how England once was, good mannered children and people who show respect.

Portraits Of A Small Peasant....Phil.

gajs78 wrote 732 days ago

Kit,
I have finally read Ruta. Having toyed with the idea of teaching you have certainly opened my eyes. This is a gritty glimpse into life in a modern school and I suppose into modern Britain. It's so real.
I couldn't understand why you were giving your or the narrators background in chapter one as I thought the story was all about Ruta, but when I read on it became clear. So based on my intial confusion, you have my only criticism - your pitch. Writing wise, this flows well, is fast paced and descriptive. There are no faults that I could see. There's a lot here for the reader to untangle and l love how the ultimate message of the book is left to the reader, he or she can interpret this as they wish.
The school as decribed in chp two is exactly what I imagine a modern school to be. I like how the narrator let us know that the kids all became successful adults, how he cared. The child protection issue was like a wake up call, from then he takes an interest in each student, caring so much that he needed to know more. Where they lived, their backgrounds etc
It is in this chapter that Ruta becomes the focus of attention, she is the student that we follow. From her progress we can compare and contrast the progress of the others.
There is a dry wit throughout the book. On two occasions I laughed whilst reading, the description of one of the children as 'lump' and the boys as 'pigs' was hilarious. I imagine that most teachers have a few choice names for difficult students! I also loved how the lump was held up as an example of British youths, if anyone was against immigration, then they need to see the lump.
Further excellent description is used to describe the backgrounds of the English children as Ferral. From what I've seen displayed in the schools near me this is most accurate.
The fight involving the Roma girl gives a good insight into how tough this school is and is contrasted well with the fight in the end.
The narrators difficulty in coping with the children compared with Robert's ease, proves teaching really is a vocation. I was saddened and surprised in the end when the narrator leaves.
It is rare to find someone who cares so much and I believe this was his downfall. The fact that he still thinks of her and how she is, what became of her shows what a deep impact this period in his life had.
I think 'Ruta' would work as a drama and also interest many entering or in the teaching field. On a wider scale Ruta is deeply relevant in todays Britain, it is a realistic, and accurate account of where we are today with immigration. In this school it was the Britsih children holding back intregration, but as a snapshot of society in general the school the kids represent British people.
This is a powerful and original book. One that I think could change many opinions.
Highly starred.

Jayne
Highly starred.

Bradley Haynes wrote 733 days ago

Hi Kit,
This is powerful writing. You have created a complex juxtaposition of what is there, what is not. As a reader I love to hover, imagine and then climb inside between the lines to try and find the missing pieces. For me this story is in hiding and about what is left out. The voyeuristic nature of the narrator, who knows everything is teasing and compelling. I wanted to say, 'come on, tell me then', but this is Ruta's beguiling self, a maze of confusion and promise, yes I wanted to ask for more.
Thank you.
Tricia

FrancesK wrote 460 days ago

Kit - I feel the same way about this as I did about Peiis. You have a story to tell, but it gets lost in generalisations and the narrator's ego. Try writing Ruta's story from HER point of view. Then we would learn all we needed to know about her teacher. What you have to say is really important - but you need to be disciplined with your material. Maybe you need to honestly write your autobiography first, to get all that stuff down on paper, so you can then write about these kids who have no one to speak for them. Good luck with your writing. FK

scargirl wrote 676 days ago

you tackle a sensitive subject and so powerful give us the truth of it in your pitch. and so simply. people will relate to this bittersweet tale. you have received some good constructive comments below...
j
what every woman should know

Rachelsarah wrote 692 days ago

I have finally got round to reading Ruta. I have read the first chapter now and I am impressed. I found the back story of the narrator interesting and am curious as to how this will fit into Ruta's life in the school. One thing I would say is that you could start off the book with something about Ruta herself. Maybe just a few paragraphs, just enough to get the reader interested in her and then return to the back story. other than than good job i enjoyed this alot.

Helianthus wrote 693 days ago

Well, I just read this and I'm not exactly sure what to say. It's beautiful. It wasn't at all what I was expecting from the pitch. In fact, I was a third of the way through the second chapter and saying to myself that there must have been a mixup, because the story until then bore no resemblance to the one in the pitch - but then Ruta appeared at last. This story seems to leave off with only a tease of what may have been happening. It says complete. Is the full story uploaded here?

School really is like a jungle, filled with predators and prey. I always assumed the teachers never noticed any of it, but apparently some of them do.

I have a few typos for you, if you'd like to have them in a message.

bubz wrote 696 days ago

I came across Ruta as a result of reading your short stories. I was suprised to find your style of writing so different in novel form but one thing remained the same, and that was the quality of the writing. i guess that this shows how versatile you are as a writer.

ceejezoid wrote 706 days ago

Kit,

I'm not really sure what to make of this, to be honest. The prose is striking, poetic in parts, and the observations are astute, effective and, at times, very moving.

I think its the brevity and the structure that I'm struggling with. It feels more like series of snapshots than a cohesive whole. If that was your intention - well done! If not, its kind of seperating me from being immersed fully into it. I'm starring highly for the quality of what's there, but its left me somewhat confused!

outofprintwriter wrote 709 days ago

Hi Kit
I have enjoyed reading all your chapters that you have posted here. I became immersed in your writing and in the story itself. I've just re-read your pitch, and it seems to me like the whole story has been told here in what was posted. Is this a novella? Or is there more to come?

You have an interesting style of writing. When I first realised how short your sentences were, it bothered me for a moment and i wondered if you would be better putting them together into paragraphs. But then, when I read on, it seems that this is a stylistic choice of yours, and that by doing so, the reader gets the impression that every word is so carefully chosen and placed where it should be.

I see that other people have commented on your first chapter as well. I found it all interesting - the mentions of travel, artists, galleries, Photoshop etc. I found myself nodding along. However, I did wonder how much of this was your thoughts, rather than your character's? And how much do they reveal about your character?

When I finished reading the last chapter, I went back to the first chapter, because I was a little confused. I thought that the rape that he was accused of in 2006 was going to be Ruta. But then he didn't meet her until a few years later - so this obviously didn't refer to her at all. I kept expecting some sort of storyline around Ruta and the rape ... Sorry, my mistake. But then, now that I have realised this, I want to know more about what happened in 2006. How did this effect him? What did it mean for him? Or is this your intention, to just give little snippets of his life?

Now, onto the really good stuff - once he gets into the school, the story and his observations are fantastic. I could walk the halls with him and feel myself becoming more and more dragged down by those feral children who weren't there to learn but to wreak havoc. And I loved the compassion he fostered and the interest that he took in those three key students. You paint a very disturbing, but accurate, picture of life in schools such as this. And it sure would take a toll on teachers and their own wellbeing. I would love my husband to read this - he works for an organisation that works with disengaged kids in schools such as this. There are huge problems out there - and I am glad that you have tackled them in such a sensitive and enlightening manner.

Just two little things that jumped out at me - somewhere, I can't remember where, said 'back and white' instead of 'black and white'. And ch 4 Bob Dylan song said 'Roll Stone', is it supposed to be 'Rolling Stone'?

Otherwise, I think it is a superb read. Do let me know if there is more to come!

Cheers

Rowena

tojo wrote 712 days ago

Have read all the chapters (in awe) speaking for myself only, the first chapter confused me, but after reading all and through to the end of chapter 5 understood the need for it. This book resonates with me so closely. Around the 1970s I was 30 years plus, the stupid liberals won and had abolished all discipline in schools. I screamed you ass holes, in twenty years you will only have animals not children, I am not pleased to have been shown correct. In 2005 I retired at 65 and sold my poor terrace house, I did not leave England I ran, fled in terror to Portugal which is how England once was, good mannered children and people who show respect.

Portraits Of A Small Peasant....Phil.

Su Dan wrote 728 days ago

good story. you write it with skill and ease,,,a delightful read.
backed...
read SEASONS...

NA Randall wrote 731 days ago

Kit,

I've just read the opening two chapters of 'Ruta'. Here are my thoughts.

You write supremely well here. The pace and tone of the narrative is just right. Intiially, I was thrown a little bit, thinking (from your pitch) that the story would be seen through Ruta's eyes, but as I read on, I started to warm to your protagonist's voice, worldview, and his struggles in a school (a shite school) trying to do his best for his pupils. The cultural reference points, be they architectural or about Bob Dylan (I really liked 'Chronicles', too) add colour to this. Characterization is strong, Ruta developing into an intriguing, enigmatic-type as the story progresses, the kind of character a reader cares about, and is eager to find out what happens to her. Settings are excellent, too - the "failing" school an interesting and topical backdrop for your story to develop.

Structurally, in terms of trying to catch the eye of any prospective agent or publisher, you might want to look into delivering a stronger hook earlier on, maybe 'Summer 2006, in Autumn, I was accused of rape...' would be a great opening line, for instance. I've read plenty of books, contemporary books, like Bret Easton Ellis' 'Lunar Park' which starts off with a lot of backstory, setting things up, and think, with 'Ruta' this approach works very well. But if you decided to cut things back, 'Ruta started at the school at the same time...' might appeal to those who like to jump straight into a story.

On a technical front, your prose has a very polished feel - 'a soldier that had died' - who had died? - was the only thing I noticed.

A very well-written, intriguing and intelligent piece of writing. If I had more time, I would definitely have kept reading. Happy to give you a run on my shelf.

Regards

NA 'The Holy Drinker'/'The Butterfly and the Wheel'

gajs78 wrote 732 days ago

Kit,
I have finally read Ruta. Having toyed with the idea of teaching you have certainly opened my eyes. This is a gritty glimpse into life in a modern school and I suppose into modern Britain. It's so real.
I couldn't understand why you were giving your or the narrators background in chapter one as I thought the story was all about Ruta, but when I read on it became clear. So based on my intial confusion, you have my only criticism - your pitch. Writing wise, this flows well, is fast paced and descriptive. There are no faults that I could see. There's a lot here for the reader to untangle and l love how the ultimate message of the book is left to the reader, he or she can interpret this as they wish.
The school as decribed in chp two is exactly what I imagine a modern school to be. I like how the narrator let us know that the kids all became successful adults, how he cared. The child protection issue was like a wake up call, from then he takes an interest in each student, caring so much that he needed to know more. Where they lived, their backgrounds etc
It is in this chapter that Ruta becomes the focus of attention, she is the student that we follow. From her progress we can compare and contrast the progress of the others.
There is a dry wit throughout the book. On two occasions I laughed whilst reading, the description of one of the children as 'lump' and the boys as 'pigs' was hilarious. I imagine that most teachers have a few choice names for difficult students! I also loved how the lump was held up as an example of British youths, if anyone was against immigration, then they need to see the lump.
Further excellent description is used to describe the backgrounds of the English children as Ferral. From what I've seen displayed in the schools near me this is most accurate.
The fight involving the Roma girl gives a good insight into how tough this school is and is contrasted well with the fight in the end.
The narrators difficulty in coping with the children compared with Robert's ease, proves teaching really is a vocation. I was saddened and surprised in the end when the narrator leaves.
It is rare to find someone who cares so much and I believe this was his downfall. The fact that he still thinks of her and how she is, what became of her shows what a deep impact this period in his life had.
I think 'Ruta' would work as a drama and also interest many entering or in the teaching field. On a wider scale Ruta is deeply relevant in todays Britain, it is a realistic, and accurate account of where we are today with immigration. In this school it was the Britsih children holding back intregration, but as a snapshot of society in general the school the kids represent British people.
This is a powerful and original book. One that I think could change many opinions.
Highly starred.

Jayne
Highly starred.

Kenneth Edward Lim wrote 732 days ago

Kit,
Using single sentences as paragraphs, conveying all you want to for the scene, action or situation, is as uncommon as it does stand out. For such a structure I can see you diluting your ideas into a few choice words at a time, as in composing poetry. Your characters are human in their failings and sympathetic, my heart going out to all of them. Your pace is brisk, your prose in narrative and dialogue, blunt and uncompromising. Such is life. Thank you so much for sharing.

Kenneth Edward Lim
The North Korean

Bradley Haynes wrote 733 days ago

Hi Kit,
This is powerful writing. You have created a complex juxtaposition of what is there, what is not. As a reader I love to hover, imagine and then climb inside between the lines to try and find the missing pieces. For me this story is in hiding and about what is left out. The voyeuristic nature of the narrator, who knows everything is teasing and compelling. I wanted to say, 'come on, tell me then', but this is Ruta's beguiling self, a maze of confusion and promise, yes I wanted to ask for more.
Thank you.
Tricia

Katy Johnson wrote 735 days ago

Ruta

There are quite a few things I like about this story. First, I don't often read literary fiction pieces that are set in a school and told from the point of view of a teacher. I am very removed from this environment and it is interesting for me to read about. I like the idea of watching a teacher become cynical and the possibly finding some redemption in a student(s).

Your prose is succinct and biting. I like that you display a clever wit that is both subtle and humorous. It's an engaging way to tell a story, and a smart way to keep lit fic from sounding "slow".

I would also like to point out that I am extremely new to writing, and everything I say may be complete crap. I say that now because I am about to tell you what I didn't like, and I hope that you take it with a huge grain of salt.

Chapter 1 - I don't feel any real direction or conflict yet. I make it a point not to read pitches before I read the novel, so I honestly had no idea what was happening or where we were going. That is okay initially, but by the end of the first chapter, I would expect some sort of hook.

Chapter 2 - I was surprised by the direction the book took here (because, again, I didn't read the pitch) but I was happy to finally get an idea of where you were taking the novel. The story starts to take form near the end of chapter two and you have successfully piqued my interest.

Chapter 3 - At this point, I started to be bothered by how broken up your paragraphs are. I realize part of this is style, but I still think you could congeal them together a little, at the very least, to improve flow and add to the ease of reading.

In this chapter I felt my first real emotional attachment, and that was to Migle. The story of her backpack being stolen while Lump behaves so immorally and the MC is powerless was excellent. Additionally, when the MC explains that all these back stories have meaning and we are now getting into the real story, I felt connected and comfortable. That was a good paragraph and a good place to put it.

However, when you went right back into a new character/student, I was disappointed. I was hoping that would be the end of the initial explanations and scene setting. Perhaps you could spread these stories out and let them flow into the narrative a little more naturally? We don't need so many characters at once, we can meet them little by little. I know that you have this all on a timeline, but if they need to be spaced out like this, perhaps we could jump back and forth through time? I'm not sure what the best answer would be, but I do feel that we have too much character introduction and seemingly unrelated stories, and (I feel) need more fleshing out of the "point" of the novel, so to speak.

If all of these student stories are intended to emotionally develop and give some insight to the MC, then I would suggest taking a few out, and accomplishing this in some other way. Maybe a past relationship, or a personal crisis, etc. I am not really sure of your motivations, so, again, these suggestions may all be crap to you. It wouldn't be the first time I was completely off base! :)

Finally, you repeat many times throughout the first three chapters that you were becoming tired of the school/colleagues/students/ etc. It could be removed a few times, as it becomes repetitive.

I hope this doesn't sound too negative, as I really enjoyed your novel! I just wanted to let you know about the few issues that didn't work for me. If you choose to take the suggestions on, or rewrite in any way (and this is your baby, so please, please, don't take my crit too seriously!) I'd be happy to come back for a second look.

Good luck with this,
Katy
- The Promenade

ThePhoenix20 wrote 741 days ago

Kit,

I like the way this opens up, sets a nice pace for the rest of the story. This isn't my genre but if more stories were like this one I might read more. It was nice to break away from my normal and get into something different in all respects. Your voice as the narrator is strong and concise, and also very relatable for most writers. I see you rely on the use of a lot of questions and it works well for this, it creates that 'self doubt' feeling and it's captivating. As it shifts from modern to futuristic, the fantasy part of me would like to see more advancements in the world around them/you start to happen, that's just me though. Overall, I've enjoyed reading this. I agree with Tom Bye; it has incredible potential and I've found no error beside one: In the third paragraph it says, "or would it stop you reading," I suggest maybe adding 'from'... "would it stop you from reading." Also for a 5 year span in chapter 5, it sort of seems brief. Beautiful piece of work. :) Backing and highly starred.

-- Myunique

Tom Bye wrote 757 days ago

Hello Kit-
book- Ruta--

Read all five chapters and what an interesting strange sort of a read they are-
On reading the pitch, I got the impression that it was a story about Ruta; after she came to England and her
school experiences-
However surprised that you are the narrator and it's about your thoughts and actions as you
encounter all of the teaching difficulties; which, in your mind are many-
Aside from that, I found the story which sounds ever so true a very good one, and it certainly had me turning
the pages quickly to read more; and would have read more; it's that engrossing-
I can see this book going places and do have to say that it's deceptively complex; in as much as what i said in the first line or so above- you tell the story well ; making it sound almost confessional-
I rate this work highly and recommend to others-

tom bye
Dublin Ireland
book- from hugs to kisses-

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