(This post may contain affiliate links. This doesn’t change anything for you, but I get a small commission that helps keep this blog going!)
Hello, lovelies! Today I’m back with a review for In The Neighborhood Of True by Susan Kaplan Carlton. This story focuses on a Jewish girl named Ruth Robb who has to choose between two worlds. If you like pretty book covers, 1950s settings, and stories that speak out against the things that are wrong in society, this book is for you!
Publication Date: April 9th 2019
Publisher: Algonquin Young Readers
Where did I get this book?: My local library!
Summary: 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.
My Rating: ☆☆☆
Let me start off by saying LOOK AT THAT COVER!! It is absolutely stunning, right? So elegant. 😌 Anyway, back to the normal review.
Set in 1958 in Atlanta, In The Neighborhood of True is full of parties, shift dresses, pre-debutantes, and…the Ku Klux Klan. Ruth is Jewish, as is her mother and sister. I can’t speak on Judaism itself, but I feel the religious aspect wasn’t explored as much as I’d thought, seeing that the summary itself says “Ruth quickly figures out she can be Jewish or she can be popular, but she can’t be both.” I would have liked to see Ruth’s religious side be just as elaborated upon as her attempts to fit in with the crowd.
The story was also fairly predictable, and not just because of the first chapter. The pacing was too fast for my tastes. Toward the end, a major event happens, but there didn’t seem to be enough emotion or room for reflection before Ruth is back to partying. From that point to the end, everything seemed to happen too fast and with not enough emotion or conflict. I guess the author intended it to be a “wake up call” for Ruth, but it didn’t seem to hit home as much as it should have.
I also didn’t feel emotionally connected to any of the characters (except for Ruth’s sister – she was adorable and reminded me of my own sisters). Even the “swoon-worthy” Davis was uninteresting, and I’m usually the first to fall for the cute love interest. I was also pretty suspicious of a few of the characters. How am I supposed to be invested in a story when I’m constantly getting bad vibes?
And now, let’s talk a little more about the romance. This book was set up PERFECTLY for a love triangle, yet it never happened. It was like subtle hinting without ever making the first step. The romance that Ruth did have felt very off, and not just because she’s totally pretending to be something she’s not. I love a good romance, but everything about this screamed “Ruth, you fool, don’t get invested!” I just didn’t like it. Everything about her and Davis’ relationship felt very surface-level, and not quite real. The one likable thing about Davis to me was that he knew a ton of information about stars and flora. But was that enough to make him the total dreamboat (did I really just use that word?) that Ruth put him on a pedestal as? Not. Really.
But the book was not totally bad. I did give it 3 stars, which means it was fairly average but not enough that I didn’t enjoy it. I very much liked the theme of fighting against antisemitism and racism – that is always important. This story handled those themes very tastefully. Antisemitism and racism are two of many things that are our human duty to bring down as much as possible. In The Neighborhood Of True spreads awareness and acceptance. And it has a pretty cover – before I knew the premise, the cover motivated me to get a closer look. I’m always down for a book with a pretty cover – even more so when it has a good message!
Have you read In The Neighborhood of True by Susan Kaplan Carlton? What were your thoughts on it? Check out more of my reviews HERE!