New novel explores the reverberations of a thirteen-year-old Latina’s disappearance
Assistant Professor Claire Jiménez has published a widely celebrated new novel. What Happened to Ruthy Ramirez (Grand Central Publishing, 2023) centers on the disappearance of thirteen‑year‑old middle child Ruthy Ramirez, who disappeared after track practice without a trace, leaving her family scarred and scrambling. One night, twelve years later, oldest sister Jessica spots a woman on her TV screen in Catfight, a raunchy reality show. Can it be Ruthy? What follows is a family road trip and reckoning that will force the Ramirez women to finally face the past and look toward a future—with or without Ruthy in it.
The novel has generated intense excitement among critics online and IRL. Jiménez appeared on NPR’s Weekend Edition to discuss her work with Ayesha Rascoe. She was featured in R29 as one of “Four Latina Authors … Breaking into the Book Industry.” What Happened has been listed as a "Best Books of March" by Time, Shondaland, Ms. Magazine, Popsugar, Bookriot, Debutiful, and Powell’s Book Blog. It's a March Indie Next Pick! and a Belletrist and Readers Digest book club pick. Time lauds the book as "a moving portrait of a fractured family – and the thrilling journey they take to find out what happened to Ruthy Ramirez.” “There’s a delightfully subversive and maverick quality to the way first-time novelist Jiménez gives her characters the freedom to tell the truth as they see it … Jiménez brings bravery to the page, and it’s her strong storytelling and humor that make this an outstanding debut,” praises Kirkus in a starred review. And Publishers Weekly, in their starred review, hails the book as "brilliant ...a knockout."
Claire Jiménez is also the author of the short story collection Staten Island Stories (Johns Hopkins Press, 2019), which received the 2019 Hornblower Award for a first book from the New York Society Library, was named a finalist for the International Latino Book Awards, a New York Public Library Favorite Book about New York, and Best Latino Book of 2019 by NBC News.