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In the Neighborhood of True

Review

In the Neighborhood of True

Set in 1958, IN THE NEIGHBORHOOD OF TRUE follows Ruth Robb, a Jewish New Yorker. After her father dies, her and the rest of her family go to live with her Christian grandparents in Atlanta. Fontaine --- Ruth’s grandmother --- enrolls Ruth as a pre-debutante, introducing her into the world of popularity and pastels. Through this world, she meets many people including Davis Jefferson. Ruth and Davis begin dating almost immediately. However, to remain in the debutante world and with Davis, Ruth must hide her Judaism, which is very hard with her mother’s rules. By her mom’s orders, Ruth must attend services at the local synagogue where the rabbi promotes and fights for civil rights along with Max --- a local college student. During the summer and the school year, Ruth has to fight the internal and external conflict between fitting in and being Jewish.

 

IN THE NEIGHBORHOOD OF TRUE by Susan Kaplan Carlton is absolutely incredible. I loved this book. The characters are complex and relatable. Everyone could find a person to whom they relate in this book. While there are definite completely evil people in this novel, Carlton ensures that every other character is sympathetic despite his or her flaws. IN THE NEIGHBORHOOD OF TRUE brings you deep in the story. I could not put the book down. Another thing that was incredibly refreshing about the novel is that it is a story about a Jewish girl that is NOT set in the Holocaust. While stories about the Holocaust are good and important, it seems as if literature about Jews is almost always set in or around the Holocaust. It is very hard to find representation of Jews anywhere else. IN THE NEIGHBORHOOD OF TRUE gives us a different story and tells it well. Carlton captures the feeling of growing up Jewish in the South perfectly --- adding another layer of representation that is even harder to find. 

IN THE NEIGHBORHOOD OF TRUE is a timeless story despite being set in 1958. The events then unfortunately mirror the events today, and the morals in the story have remained true. If you are looking for something different or a story you have not heard before, this book is perfect for you. I especially recommend this book to Jewish girls. 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.

Reviewed by Rebecca D. on April 3, 2019

In the Neighborhood of True
by Susan Kaplan Carlton