2020, 2020 Reviews, Blog, Blog Tour, Books, Paperback

Review: In the Neighborhood of True by Susan Kaplan Carlton


After her father’s death, Ruth Robb and her family transplant themselves in the summer of 1958 from New York City to Atlanta—the land of debutantes, sweet tea, and the Ku Klux Klan. In her new hometown, Ruth quickly figures out she can be Jewish or she can be popular, but she can’t be both. Eager to fit in with the blond girls in the “pastel posse,” Ruth decides to hide her religion. Before she knows it, she is falling for the handsome and charming Davis and sipping Cokes with him and his friends at the all-white, all-Christian Club. Does it matter that Ruth’s mother makes her attend services at the local synagogue every week? Not as long as nobody outside her family knows the truth. At temple, Ruth meets Max, who is serious and intense about the fight for social justice, and now she is caught between two worlds, two religions, and two boys. But when a violent hate crime brings the different parts of Ruth’s life into sharp conflict, she will have to choose between all she’s come to love about her new life and standing up for what she believes.
In the Neighborhood of True releases on July 7, 2020. Be sure to pick it up from your favorite retailer. Follow author Susan Kaplan Carlton on Instagram, on Twitter, or on Goodreads.

I was gifted a copy of Susan Kaplan Carlton’s In the Neighborhood of True in exchange for my honest review. Thanks, Algonquin Young Readers!

Ruth Robb is a New Yorker, born, but not entirely bred. Her Mom is a true Southern Debutante, with a few social crowns under her belt. But Ruth and her mom and sister find themselves in a new world after the death of Ruth’s father. Forced to live in a guesthouse, her newness and pedigree is shiny and new to the people of her mother’s small hometown. She finds herself drawn to some people, while navigating the unfamiliar waters of the social circle and figuring out where she fits within it. The South is a violent and dangerous place for those who are different–and everything from her dark hair, to her Mademoiselle magazine habit are different.

The most dangerous, however, is that Ruth’s mother converted to her husband’s religion–so both Ruth and her sister are Jewish (this word is only whispered among the few who know). Ruth has to have a double life if she wants to explore the world of the pink booklet, with all the social dos and don’t the right sort of young lady should know. As Ruth settles in, she finds herself drawn to two young men, One stands for almost everything she thinks she wants, the other stands for almost everything her father tried to teach her. In the world of the deep south, Ruth will come to realize that the choices she makes will underline the person she is and set a path to the future she’ll embody. But is she ready for that future, or can she just place it on hold while she has a little fun?

I was drawn into this book immediately, Author Susan Kaplan Carlton’s prose is masterful and compelling. While the book takes place in the 60s, it is filled with themes that can resonate with nearly any reader. And, like any really good them, this novel shows us that there are themes (and history) that repeat themselves. I really enjoyed this book and think that if you read it this summer, you might want to share it with your favorite young person. This is a coming of age story that won’t disappoint, opening the way to some really good conversation that is essential in today’s day and age (and helpful to making the future brighter).

Praise for In the Neighborhood of True by Susan Kaplan Carlton
The story may be set in the past, but it couldn’t be a more timely reminder that true courage comes not from fitting in, but from purposefully standing out…and that to find out who you really are, you have to first figure out what you’re not.”—Jodi Picoult, New York Times bestselling author of A Spark of Light and Small Great Things

“Every character is memorable and complex, and the plot quickly becomes engrossing…the characters’ moral decisions are so complicated and so surprising that many people will be kept spellbound by even the tiniest detail. Riveting.”Kirkus Reviews

“Inspired by the 1958 bombing of an Atlanta synagogue, this novel uses its immersive historical setting to convey truths about hatred that remain relevant today…Timely YA historical fiction that belongs on all shelves.”School Library Journal

“Carlton does an excellent job of mixing the personal with the historical …Ruth crisply relays her conflicted feelings, the tense situations, and characters who are well shaded and occasionally surprising.”Booklist

The Neighborhood of True, inspired by real-life events, is a testament to an important time in our country’s history with themes that resonate today.”Shelf Awareness

“A gorgeous story about a teenage girl finding her voice in the face of hate, heartbreak, and injustice.”—Nova Ren Suma, #1 New York Times bestselling author of A Room Away from the Wolves

“Susan Kaplan Carlton’s snapshot of 1958 Atlanta is both exquisite and harrowing, and I will hold it in my heart for a long time.—Rachel Lynn Solomon, author of You’ll Miss Me When I’m Gone and Our Year of Maybe

“You might not think a book set in 1959 could feel wildly relevant, but wow does this YA set in Atlanta that explores anti-Semitism in the south during the Civil Rights era feel incredibly on point after the shooting at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh. In both cases, the synagogue was specifically targeted for being not just a place of worship for Jews but for being active participants in the eternal American fight against racism.”—Barnes & Noble Teen Blog

“One of the most honest, multifaceted, and authentic portrayals of teen girlhood I’ve ever read. This is a must for readers of historical fiction, particularly areas that receive less attention.”—Young Adult Books Central

“Susan Kaplan Carlton offers a rich sense of time and place and a compelling profile in courage of a conflicted 17-year-old finding her voice in this interesting snapshot of a little-known chapter of the early civil rights movement.”The Buffalo News

“I loved this book. The characters are complex and relatable…Carlton captures the emotions and the struggle perfectly, making it a great place to find representation of what it’s like to be Jewish then and now.”—Teenreads

In the Neighborhood of True is a story that really struck a chord with me. It highlights issues that remain as relevant then as they are now. It reminded us that we can’t truly hide ourselves, not when it matters the most. Most important of all, it reminds the reader that we must always tell our truths, no matter how hard it might be for others to hear them.”—The Nerd Daily



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