In the Neighborhood of True
by Carlton, Susan Kaplan

Moving from New York to Atlanta after her father's death in 1958, young Ruth hides her Jewish heritage from her blonde debutante peers before finding herself caught between two boys, including a charming youth from a privileged Christian club and a passionate social justice advocate from her temple. Simultaneous eBook.

Susan Kaplan Carlton currently teaches writing at Boston University. She is the author of Love & Haight and Lobsterland; her writing has also appeared in Self, Elle, Mademoiselle, and Seventeen. She lived for a time with her family in Atlanta, where her daughters learned the finer points of etiquette from a little pink book and the power of social justice from their synagogue.

After her father's death, Ruth's mother transports Ruth and her younger sister from Manhattan to her childhood home in Atlanta. Besides dealing with the shock of her dad's death, Ruth has to acclimate to a new way of life. Her grandmother, Fontaine, wants her to travel in the best circles, perhaps to become the Magnolia Queen at the city's fanciest ball. And though Ruth enters an elite school and finds new friends, she's aware that in 1958 Southern society, it'll all go away if people find out her father was Jewish, her mother is a convert, and she spends Saturday mornings in synagogue. Carlton does an excellent job of mixing the personal with the historical here. Ruth's growing romance with Davis Jefferson is another reason to hide. But when Davis' brother is involved in the bombing of her synagogue, Ruth must finally choose her truth. Ruth crisply relays her conflicted feelings, the tense situations, and characters who are well shaded and occasionally surprising. The story's centerpiece is based on actual synagogue bombings, spotlighting forgotten history. Grades 7-10. Copyright 2018 Booklist Reviews.

Girls in 1958 Atlanta don't just have soft drinks before lunch: They drink Co-Cola floats. And if they want to be popular and successful, they compete for pre-debutante titles like Maid of Cotton and Magnolia Queen. They certainly don't admit to being Jewish. Ruth Robb-who's arrived from New York after her father's death-never mentions her religion to her boyfriend even though she goes to synagogue every Shabbos. Carlton (Love & Haight, 2012, etc.) loves her telling details a little too much. Characters say "Shalom, y'all" a few times too many, and readers may worry, on occasion, that the author is going to describe every single object in the Robbs' home. But every character is memorable and complex, and the plot quickly becomes engrossing, though it leads up to an act of anti-Semitic violence that 21st-century readers may find much too timely. The characters are, unsurprisingly, largely white, and in one brief act of defiance, Ruth walks through the colored-o nly entrance at the movies. The climax involves larger acts of defiance, but it also requires a level of coincidence that may raise eyebrows. Still, the characters' moral decisions are so complicated and so surprising that many people will be kept spellbound by even the tiniest detail. Riveting. (Historical fiction. 14-19) Copyright Kirkus 2019 Kirkus/BPI Communications. All rights reserved.

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