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Title: In The Neighborhood of True
Author: Susan Kaplan Carlton
Published: 7th of July 2020 Paperback/ 9th of April 2019 – Algonquin Young Readers
Format: eARC Netgalley – 320 pages
“I wanted you to see the beauty side by side with the ugliness. If one of these nights you see a flicker on this mountain… you need to know that along with organdy and happiness, there’s a hatred we can’t look away from.” – In The Neighborhood of True
Hello Hello! How are you?
It’s already the middle of the week and so far I’ve been reading some really interesting books, I’m nearly finished with all the blog tours I’ve had scheduled for the past few months and I’ll be able to mood read after the middle of next week, I’m really looking forward to quite a few books and can’t decide which to start with, so keeps your eyes peeled for a Twitter poll to help me chose!
My second blog tour of the week is also my second blog tour with Algonquin Young Readers. I was really excited when Kelly from Algonquin reached out to me about this book, it sounded like a really great book and I was happy to join the blog tour. Thank you to Kelly and the author for letting me take part in this tour and thank you to Netgalley for providing me with a free copy of this book in exchange got an honest review. All opinions are my own.
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. 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 by Susan Kaplan Carlton is a YA historical fiction, set in the 1950s in the U.S. and in which we follow Ruth Hobb as she comes to terms with the death of her father, being Jewish in a southern state that hasn’t done anything towards integration, her grandmother sending her off to debutante meetings and making friends along the way. I was really intrigued by this book when I first heard about it, and although I struggled to actually see where it was going for quite a while, I couldn’t stop reading it because I wanted to find out what it was all about and what was going to happen.
I was actually intrigued by this book, reading the blurb you don’t really get an idea of what its going to be about, and in my experience, I think it only really made sense to me at the end when everything came together and I finished the book, and I have to say that I really like books like that, that make you think and question right at the end. I haven’t ever read a YA historical fiction despite loving and reading as much historical fiction as I can get my hands on, so this was definitely a new experience for me and I really rather enjoyed it.
I was struggling with the debutante scene to start with as I didn’t really understand its importance, but as we get to know Ruth, her family and her new friends more, it becomes easier to understand. I was surprised by my reaction at the end of the book because the last few chapters were loaded with feelings, messages and subtleties and I really liked how everything from this book was tied together.
I thought that Ruth was a really great character, along with her mum and Nattie. These women are so strong and they just keep pushing on, with their grief and their difficulties, their own struggles and the ones they share. I thought they were really quite modern as well, and I have a big place for Ruth in my heart as she learned from others that hate and discrimination cannot be tolerated, and every time she stood up against it, even if it was only visible to herself. I loved her little acts of defiance.
This was a really interesting book and I think it has a lot of things going for it. I wasn’t that much of a fan of the whole debutante and friends that weren’t really friends. I enjoyed Ruth’s narrative and her time with her family, or at the temple a lot more because I found it more important than the debutante subplot which I found quite superfluous at times. I think that this part was necessary to get the message across, even though I personally didn’t really enjoy it that much. This book is the type of book to make you think, and I really liked how the author handled all the subjects, how it felt like an actual message was being delivered to the reader through Ruth’s experiences and encounters with various other characters.
“We’re sometimes fooled into thinking hatred doesn’t happen here because the magnolias are in bloom. But hatred cannot be hidden.” – In The Neighborhood of True
MY THOUGTHS AND RATING
Overall, I quite enjoyed this book, it was well written, although sometimes the accents or certain things that were said in certain styles (when words were stuck together or hyphenated a lot annoyed me a little), I did find that the message was really important, the author talked about some very important topics that are very relevant at the moment, and the whole thing was really well executed.
This book was really different, I found the debutante and religious southern family subplots a bit boring to me personally, and I really loved learning about Ruth, her family, their Jewish religion, learning about their deceased father, seeing her grow up and make her own choices, becoming a strong and determined woman, but also not being afraid to eventually let the truth be known and embrace herself.
I gave this book 4 stars, I thought it was really enjoyable once I got into the story and I think a lot of people will also really enjoy it. My favourite parts were definitely between Ruth and her mum, Ruth and Mr Hanks and Ruth and Birdie, I found these to be very important and significant in the story. I think a lot of people would recommend this book, so I would definitely recommend it to people who like books with strong messages of inclusion and love, family, finding your true self, historical fiction and growing up in a place that doesn’t accept who you are but not letting it drag you down despite that.
That’s all for now, I hope you enjoyed this review, see you soon, stay safe,
“But my heart is a stone more days than I’d care to acknowledge.” – In The Neighborhood of True
If you would like to purchase this book, you can find it here: Amazon UK (affiliate link) – Amazon FR (affiliate link) – The Book Depository (affiliate link) – Audible FR (affiliate link) – Amazon US – Waterstones – Barnes and Noble – Audible UK – Scrib’d – Kobo