Book Clubs

Ru is available to visit with book clubs in person or via skype.

Reading Group Guide

In her heart of hearts, Latha knows that she was not mean to be a servant. She was born for finer things, like the rose-smelling bars of Lux soap she steals when no one is looking. But the hard truth is that Latha’s life is tied to the Vithanages, the family she has been working for since she was five years old. A Disobedient Girl follows Latha over the course of thirty years as she serves Thara Vithanage—a girl her own age who is given every luxury and opportunity Latha yearns to have for herself. As her story progresses, we are also introduced to Biso, a young mother from a respectable family in Southern Sri Lanka who has decided to leave her abusive husband. In chapters interwoven with Latha’s, we travel with Biso and her three children on their journey, the end of which brings a surprising twist of events that connects her life with Latha’s in an unexpected and heartbreaking way. 

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A Conversation with Ru Freeman

1. A Disobedient Girl is your first published novel, though you’ve published short stories before. How does the process of writing a novel differ than that of writing a short story? What was it like to spend so much time with just one group of characters?
Short stories deal, usually, with a discrete moment and expands or contracts to strengthen that particular moment. I can see the margins of a short-story; it is like those word games where some of the letters are removed and parts of others brushed off but the brain still reads the intended word. Writing a short story is, therefore, a matter of putting in those missing letters and lines and it is instantly fulfilling no matter how much revision awaits. With a novel there is so much layering going on that throughout a first draft the story is never clear to me, but rather one that is being related to me. It is like what happens when I am reading a good book – a sort of craving of the next word, the next paragraph, the next page, the next event. It is not a particularly restful dwelling place for the mind or spirit. I love both forms though, and there is ample space in literature for both.

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The Disobedient Girl
Evocative and moving. Ru Freeman is a marvelous storyteller who sees deeply into the complex layers of compassion and love, of sorrow and betrayal. An amazing first novel.— Ursula Hegi, author of Stones From The River and The Worst Thing I Have Done