Book Title: Life Long by Ronald L. Ruiz
Category: Adult Fiction, 268 pages
Genre: Literary Fiction
Publisher: Amika Press
Release date: June 9, 2017
Tour dates: Sept 18 to Oct 6, 2017
Content Rating: PG-13 + M (For foul language - lots of words - and questions about the existence of God)
Ray Lopez is on the run with a duffel bag full of cash. Both drug dealers and the police are after him. But Ray is not a criminal. His last brush with the law was over traffic tickets. Recently released from the hospital with a diagnosis of schizophrenia, he is haunted by voices, auditory hallucinations, that frighten him and cause him to question his every move.
Ray’s journey from California to Laredo is perilous. Like so many Americans before him, he travels through unfamiliar territory with no clear way of knowing who will help and who will harm him. And he may well find himself on the wrong side of the border with a mind that has no borders.
Written in the first person point-of-view of a teenager with schizophrenia, Life Long is a powerful portrayal of the struggle one orphaned boy experiences as he is caught up trying to survive in a world that lacks understanding and takes advantage of the less fortunate.
The story opens up with Raymond Lopez telling the reader how he ended up in the dire situation of being on the run with a bag full of money that isn't his. In a series of flashbacks, we get the picture of a teenager who has just lost his grandmother, the remaining member of his family. The compassionate priest Padre Ibarra tries to help him by finding a family for him to stay with, but things unravel when he has a mental breakdown and he ends up in the hospital with a diagnosis of paranoid schizophrenia.
For most of the story, Ray is on the run, taking buses from one place to another trying to get as far away as possible from his poor hometown and the police and men he is sure are chasing him. But his meds are running out and he fears he will have another breakdown. The reader is so caught up at this point wondering how Ray is going to fare, being a teenager with no family and a torturous mental illness that threatens to take over as he tries to figure out what to do next.
The author introduces a variety of shady characters that Ray meets on his journey, and how through each one, we get to see how Ray uses what he learns from them to survive on his own as he desperately tries to escape his situation, both social and mental. Through his journey, we get to see the world of the bus depots and the people who use this method of travel because of their poor financial situation. It's clear that the book is partly a social commentary of how society takes advantage of those who are poor, downtrodden, and of a different race.
There is a lot of profanity (especially f-bombs) and crude language in this book, bringing out the rough people Ray meets and interacts with. I get it, but it can still be jarring if you don't like profanity. Apart from this, there is no other questionable content.
The story has a good ending and is hopeful, leaving the reader with the truth that the kind acts of others can make a huge difference in a person's life. I enjoyed this story immensely. Having worked in child psychiatry, I have an affinity for stories that deal with mental illness in a way that brings out understanding and empathy in the reader. Kudos to the author for accomplishing this.
To read reviews, please visit Ronald L. Ruiz's page on iRead Book Tours.
Praise for Life Long:
"Ruiz proves to be a very sharp social critic, and no detail gets past him in this richly imagined book. A highly recommended novel that appeals to both the heart and the head."
- Kirkus Reviews
LCR: What made you want to write a book about a man dealing with schizophrenia?
LCR: What was the most challenging aspect of writing this book? The easiest?
RLR: The most challenging. Keeping my daughter out of the book....The easiest. Recalling the suffering of a paranoid schizophrenic.
LCR: Do you think that mental illness needs to be explored more in literature?
LCR: How much of your former profession as lawyer influences your writing?
RLR: Being a lawyer greatly influenced my writing of Happy Birthday Jesus, The Big Bear and A Lawyer. It had none or very little influence in writing Giuseppe Rocco, Jesusita, and Life Long.
LCR: If you could travel back in time, where would you go? Who would you see?
RLR: I would travel to Nepal and watch the life styles of the Buddhist people there.
LCR: What is the funniest (or strangest, or scariest) incident that has ever happened to you?
RLR: One of the scariest experience I ever had was learning that I am afraid of heights while I was driving alone over a very busy San Francisco Bay Bridge.
LCR: Can you share with us some of your favorite authors and what you are currently reading?
RLR: I revere the Russian authors Leo Tolstoy and Fyodor Dostoevsky. I am a great admirer of Cormac McCarthy's genius. I am currently reading Cormac McCarthy´s All The Pretty Horses for the third time.
LCR: Any future projects you would like to share with us?
RLR: I am currently working on my version of a love story.
Ronald L. Ruiz has published 5 novels and a memoir. Happy Birthday Jesus (1994), Giuseppe Rocco (1998), The Big Bear (2003), A Lawyer (2012), Jesusita(2015). and Life Long (2017).
Connect with the Author: Website ~ Facebook