In the Neighborhood of True

In the Neighborhood of True

A powerful story of love, identity, and the price of fitting in or speaking out.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. Eag...

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Title:In the Neighborhood of True
Author:Susan Kaplan Carlton
Rating:

In the Neighborhood of True Reviews

  • Rachel Solomon

    Official blurb: "Susan Kaplan Carlton's snapshot of 1958 Atlanta is both exquisite and harrowing – and, tragically, it feels all too timely. It's been a while since I felt so immersed in a piece of historical fiction, and I know I'll hold Ruth's story in my heart for a long time."

  • Vicky Who Reads

    Content Warnings:

    In the Neighborhood of True surprised me in a lot of ways.

    There’s not a lot of historical fiction with Jewish protagonists that’s not about the Holocaust, but Susan Kaplan Carlton writes a novel set in 1958 about a Jewish girl who moves from New York City to Atlanta and hides her religion in order to fit in.

    It’s a very quiet and understat

    Content Warnings:

    In the Neighborhood of True surprised me in a lot of ways.

    There’s not a lot of historical fiction with Jewish protagonists that’s not about the Holocaust, but Susan Kaplan Carlton writes a novel set in 1958 about a Jewish girl who moves from New York City to Atlanta and hides her religion in order to fit in.

    It’s a very quiet and understated novel, one I think a lot of people will end up passing by, purely on account of the lack of popularity for historical fiction during times without huge, well-known events.

    But In the Neighborhood of True is important for a lot of reasons.

    It’s 2019, yet less than a century ago, children were saying prayers in schools and called the Civil War “The War of Northern Aggression” and hung the Confederate flag everywhere (umm…still do, ack).

    I think this is such an untouched time in history in YA lit, and I really appreciated Carlton’s addition to the YA historical fiction genre. I don’t think a lot of people realized how different things were back then (young people especially!) and seeing how antisemitism existed just a short time ago and still today was really powerful.

    It might not have been a super flashy time in history, but things still happened, and In the Neighborhood of True is based on true events (that I won’t spoil, but Carlton talks about in her author’s note).

    I think we can never get too much of “staying true to yourself” sort of stories in YA, and Ruth learns so much about this and how she wants to present herself in a hate-filled world. I’m sure we all know how the story ends for Ruth in terms of accepting herself, but it’s the journey that’s important and Ruth’s own journey was still important.

    It might not be full of huge events, but instead quiet resistance and gentle learning through the influence of her friends and family. I think it’s ultimately a lot more of a realistic “stay true to yourself” story than some of the others out there, and feels like a lot of teens could use and appreciate In the Neighborhood of True.

    Plus, it talks a lot about a lot of very teen-like issues—dating for the first time, fitting in and wanting to be part of a friend group, and so much more that comes with moving to a new town (although, on a next level because this is The South).

    Activism is really tricky because there’s so many ways to approach it, and a lot of people don’t agree with it.

    In the Neighborhood of True presents a view of both activism of the time period against antisemitism, but also activism against racism. And although their approach may not always be right and may be flawed, as Ruth learns and questions, it shows the complexity of activism in a time where so much wasn’t going right.

    I enjoyed this, and although I definitely think not everyone will love this, the right people will fall head-over-heels in love with Ruth and her story.

    In the Neighborhood of True is quiet and understated, but strong as steel at its core.

    If you like quieter YA in unusual time periods talking about activism, I would definitely recommend checking out Carlton’s novel.

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  • Jennifer ~ TarHeelReader

    ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐

    Ruth Robb and her family move from New York City to Atlanta in 1958. Her father has recently passed away, which triggered the move. Ruth’s family is Jewish, and one of the first things she learns in Atlanta is that she must choose between being Jewish and being popular.

    Ruth desperately wants to fit in like any teen would, and she chooses to hide her religion from her new group of friends. She has a crush on Davis and winds up with him at the club that is all-white and a

    ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️

    Ruth Robb and her family move from New York City to Atlanta in 1958. Her father has recently passed away, which triggered the move. Ruth’s family is Jewish, and one of the first things she learns in Atlanta is that she must choose between being Jewish and being popular.

    Ruth desperately wants to fit in like any teen would, and she chooses to hide her religion from her new group of friends. She has a crush on Davis and winds up with him at the club that is all-white and all-Christian.

    Ruth’s mother still makes her attend temple every week, but no one outside her family knows. She forms a relationship with Max at temple, and he is vocal about social justice for Jews.

    A hate crime occurs, and Ruth will have to make some tough choices between what she wants and what is right.

    Technically this is a young adult historical, but I didn’t notice the “young adult” part while reading. Maybe the language was straight forward, but I took it as seamless, smooth writing. I was immediately struck by this different take on being a Jew in the south during the 1950s. I’m not sure I’ve read a book with this focus before. Based loosely on an historical event that occurred in Atlanta during this time, it made me consider how little has changed some 60 years later when I think of Pittsburgh.

    Overall, In the Neighborhood of True is a thoughtful and important look at deciding between who you think you are and who you want to be.

    I received a complimentary copy. All opinions are my own.

    My reviews can also be found on my blog:

  • Madalyn (Novel Ink)

    Wow, this was such a pleasant surprise, and so timely. I picked up an ARC of this one at ALAMW after seeing that it was historical fiction set in Atlanta in the 1950’s, and this did not disappoint. As others have said, it was so nice to read historical fiction with a Jewish main character (#ownvoices rep) that is not set during the Holocaust.

    IN THE NEIGHBORHOOD OF TRUE deals with themes that are, unfortunately, all too timely. I originally picked this up because of the setting, and as a lifelon

    Wow, this was such a pleasant surprise, and so timely. I picked up an ARC of this one at ALAMW after seeing that it was historical fiction set in Atlanta in the 1950’s, and this did not disappoint. As others have said, it was so nice to read historical fiction with a Jewish main character (#ownvoices rep) that is not set during the Holocaust.

    IN THE NEIGHBORHOOD OF TRUE deals with themes that are, unfortunately, all too timely. I originally picked this up because of the setting, and as a lifelong Atlantan who is the child, grandchild, and great-grandchild of lifelong Atlantans, I thought this book perfectly captured the duality of Atlanta during the twentieth century (and maybe still today)— it succeeded in celebrating the beauty of the city while unabashedly critiquing its incredibly ugly history of racism, anti-Semitism, injustice, and hatred. Many people might not know about Atlanta’s shameful anti-Semitic history, but this book was inspired by a true event, the Atlanta Temple Bombing of 1959.

    I was hesitant going into this one, because I worried the focus on the Jewish community here in Atlanta in the 1950’s would omit the struggle of black Atlantans during the Civil Rights era. However, I thought the author handled this pretty well. This story shows how, not only did Jewish people in Atlanta face their own kinds of discrimination, but also how the Jewish community here was often engaged in the fight for equal rights for all Americans (without making this into a white savior story). However, I do wish that there had been discussion around the fact that Ruth, our main character, hides her Jewish identity and “passes” around her new debutante friends, but Ruth’s black counterparts don’t have the luxury of passing. Definitely some missed opportunities for discussions around privilege. (I should note that I am neither Jewish nor black and can’t personally speak to the quality of this representation on either front.)

    Overall, IN THE NEIGHBORHOOD OF TRUE is a book I think will stick with me for quite some time, and I highly recommend picking it up this spring.

  • Alana • thebookishchick

    Seriously, this was so good and such an important read. It's scary and sad to think that a book set in 1958 can still tie so heavily into today's society by discussing topics such as antisemitism and racism, but here we are. Now, I can't speak from experience, but I do appreciate books that help put these tough topics into a better perspective for me and that's exactly what this did. I thought the author did an excellent job of talking about Ruth h

    Seriously, this was so good and such an important read. It's scary and sad to think that a book set in 1958 can still tie so heavily into today's society by discussing topics such as antisemitism and racism, but here we are. Now, I can't speak from experience, but I do appreciate books that help put these tough topics into a better perspective for me and that's exactly what this did. I thought the author did an excellent job of talking about Ruth hiding her religion from her new friends but also recognizing the fact that there are much bigger issues at hand given the time period.

    The writing in this book was incredible and made me feel like I was actually taken back into the 50's. I was also instantly hooked on this story since it starts off with Ruth seconds away from getting on the stand during a trial to testify for a hate crime. The author then leaves readers hanging on the edge of our seats and takes us back to a few months earlier and let's the story unravel. I desperately tore through this book to find out whether Ruth would find her voice or continue to pretend to be someone she's not.

    I really fell in love with Ruth and I absolutely adored her growth throughout this story. She starts out seeing right through her town's etiquette classes and catty new classmates, but she's also desperate to fit in. She admits that she's shallow and hides who she really is in order to not feel like an outcast, especially when the popular boy at school starts to fall in love with her. But hiding who she is means she has to make sure her new

    never find out that Ruth is Jewish. They can never know that she attends temple on the weekends. But along comes another boy who makes her question her new life (no, this isn't a love triangle type of story), he's just someone Ruth is able to be her true self with. On top of having a lovable MC, you'll find other characters who are so easy to fall in love with, for example, my love for Ruth's mother is infinite. She wanted to make sure Ruth saw the ugly in the world and never sugar coated anything for her children to help inspire them to be a better person. I honestly wish we all had parents like that.

    I'm not going to talk much about the specifics of the hate crime because I'd rather not spoil anything, but I think it was handled very well. It was heart-wrenching to read, but also very moving. As for why I didn't give this a five star writing, I have two teeny, tiny complaints. The first, is that the romance was a little too insta-lovey for me, but nothing I wasn't able to see past because this is about so much more than a love story. And the second, was that the ending seemed a little rushed. I would have preferred maybe a little bit more of the actual trial or what Ruth does after the trial, but again nothing to deter me from not loving this book.

    All in all, I'm so glad I found this book. I'm always on the hunt for thought-provoking stories that make you stop and think about the bigger picture and that's exactly what this book did. I can't recommend

    enough!

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  • Suzanne Leopold (Suzy Approved Book Reviews)

    Ruth Robb is a teenager hiding a big secret from her friends. She recently moved to Atlanta from New York City where she was raised in a Jewish home. After her father's death, her mom decided to move them back near her family. Neither of them has told anyone about their religious beliefs because of the conservative nature of 1950s Georgia.

    Ruth current social life pushes her toward debutante training, teas, and various social clubs. At the same time, she enjoys visits to her temple with her moth

    Ruth Robb is a teenager hiding a big secret from her friends. She recently moved to Atlanta from New York City where she was raised in a Jewish home. After her father's death, her mom decided to move them back near her family. Neither of them has told anyone about their religious beliefs because of the conservative nature of 1950s Georgia.

    Ruth current social life pushes her toward debutante training, teas, and various social clubs. At the same time, she enjoys visits to her temple with her mother on the weekends. Her two separate lives are interesting but it is just a matter of time before they collide. When a violent hate crime occurs, Ruth must make choices that threaten to expose her secret life.

    In The Neighborhood Of True was inspired by a true event. The book’s focus is on young adults and addresses antisemitism and racism viewed through the eyes of a teenager. Susan Caplan Carlton tells a good story with relevant themes still faced by our society.

  • Berit☀️✨

    Susan Kaplan Carlton has written a compelling story that is loosely based on the 1958 Atlanta temple bombing. My mom was a northerner who moved to the south in the 1950s. I remember her telling me stories of colored water fountains and standing up for Land of Dixie, of debutante balls and sweet tea. It always seems so different from my own upbringing in the melting pot o

    Susan Kaplan Carlton has written a compelling story that is loosely based on the 1958 Atlanta temple bombing. My mom was a northerner who moved to the south in the 1950s. I remember her telling me stories of colored water fountains and standing up for Land of Dixie, of debutante balls and sweet tea. It always seems so different from my own upbringing in the melting pot of Southern California. So I can only imagine how different it was for Ruth from New York city. Throw in the fact that she was also Jewish, and I think the girl must have gone through some major culture shock. I will never truly understand hate, it is just something I’ve never had in my heart. What is unfortunate is even though this book was set 60 years ago it is still relevant today. I like to believe that most people are extremely accepting of all people, but there are those few that just can’t seem to let go of the hate and the anger. I probably could go on anon, but I will spare you all!

    Ruth is a junior in high school who finds herself in the deep south after the death of her father. The world of pastels and blondes is a far cry from NYC, and Ruth realizes real quick that she cannot be both Jewish and popular. Soon Ruth finds herself ensconced in the debutante world, trying on dresses, attending parties, and striving to be the Magnolia queen. And there is a boy, named Davis Jefferson no less. But is Ruth being true to herself pretending she is something she’s not? And what happens when the unthinkable happens and Ruth is caught between two worlds?

    I found Ruth tremendously relatable and likable. I got her, I would have done exactly what she did at her age in her situation. She was all about friendship, and fashion, and fitting in. The romance between Ruth and Davis was so sweet and adorable, yes it was a little Insta but they are teenagers, seems to happen that way quite a bit. I also really liked Ruth’s mother and Ruth’s relationship with her mother. Her mother was strong and a bit righteous, but she let Ruth do her thing. Fontaine Ruth’s grandma was such an authentic character, I truly think she represented how her generation in the south saw things. She herself didn’t feel as though she hated anyone, however she didn’t think anything needed to change either, in fact she felt as though she supported Jewish people because she shopped at a department store owned by Jewish people. I also appreciated that she did not have some major epiphany and completely change how she felt. My only tiny complaint is I wish that the bombing took place a little earlier in the book, so we could really see how the conflict resolved itself.

    A riveting and important story that I strongly encourage everyone to pick up!

    *** A huge thank you to Algonquin for my copy of this book ***

  • Kai

    So you would think that antisemitism is just as much a thing of the past as people saying "swell" whenever they thought something was cool. But hate and terror against Jews is just as real today as Islamophobia and racism. And I doubt this comes as a surprise to you. As it turns out, the themes of this book are just as relevant today as they were back in the 1960s.

    is an OwnVoices young adult novel loosely

    So you would think that antisemitism is just as much a thing of the past as people saying "swell" whenever they thought something was cool. But hate and terror against Jews is just as real today as Islamophobia and racism. And I doubt this comes as a surprise to you. As it turns out, the themes of this book are just as relevant today as they were back in the 1960s.

    is an OwnVoices young adult novel loosely based on the events of the Atlanta Temple Bombing in 1958. It tells the story of a Jewish teenager torn between wanting to fit in and staying true to herself and her Jewish community. After her father's death, Ruth, her mum, and her sister move from New York back to Atlanta, Georgia. Here, being Jewish often doesn't just mark you as an outsider but could also put you in grave danger.

    Antisemitism and racism play big roles in this book. And while it was easier for Ruth to pass as a white girl at school, the author also shows that the reality for black people was often worse. What I do like is that the author managed to discuss racism without stepping into the position of a white saviour who is speaking for black people. When Ruth tries to do just that, she is immediately reprimanded for it. She wants to elevate herself by praising Birdie's (the black maid's) kids and is put in her place when Birdie tells her not to use her children's accomplishments to improve her own status. The author also talks about the grim history of lynchings carried out by the Klu-Klux-Klan in Atlanta.

    I wish that the book had been a little less predictable and a lot more emotional. I often felt that the author only touched the surface of the reality of a Jewish girl that hides her Jewishness when faced with a squad of white and blond teenager Southern belles. That shit is frightening and while the was potential to really show that fear, it wasn't carried out. The events of the Atlanta Church bombing took place in the last 15% of the book, and if the bombing had taken place earlier in the novel, there might have also been more potential for conflict. I feel the same way about the romance in this novel. Sure, there was a cute guy with even cuter dimples that Ruth crushed on, but it fell flat because there was no chemistry, there were no emotions.

    I did, however, like Ruth's mother and sister. They seemed to have more depth than the other characters. I would have wished for more confrontation with Fontaine, Ruth's grandmother, who seems like one of those people that would say problematic things like "I don't see colour." She often acted like the fact that her daughter married a Jew was a stain that needed to be removed. She should have been told off or should have had a moment where she realises that her attitude towards her daughter's and granddaughters' Jewish backgrounds is problematic at best, antisemitic at worst.

    All in all, I believe that this story is timeless. We need to talk about antisemitism, racism and Islamophobia more than ever before. They are being normalised - on social media and in the news. Far-right extremism needs to be fought and eliminated, and although it will probably never be erased, it is our duty to spread awareness and acceptance whenever we can.

  • destiny ♡⚔♡ [howling libraries]

    Is this an important topic? Absolutely! Does this book deserve to be read by loads of people? Yes, yes, yes. Did it work for

    Not in the slightest.

    This feels like one of those "it's not you, it's me!" moments ('you' being the book, and 'me' being, well...

    ), but the writing style doesn't work for me at all. I also immediately had some huge personal issues with the depictions of characters in this book, and the whole thing just... sigh. It's not for me, fam. I definitely hope others will

    Is this an important topic? Absolutely! Does this book deserve to be read by loads of people? Yes, yes, yes. Did it work for

    Not in the slightest.

    This feels like one of those "it's not you, it's me!" moments ('you' being the book, and 'me' being, well...

    ), but the writing style doesn't work for me at all. I also immediately had some huge personal issues with the depictions of characters in this book, and the whole thing just... sigh. It's not for me, fam. I definitely hope others will love it because it's an important topic and we need more own-voice Jewish rep in YA

    , but I won't be picking this one back up.

  • Vanessa (The Bookish Deer)

    DNF at 13%

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