Thursday, July 9, 2020

Book Review and GIVEAWAY: In the Neighborhood of True, by Susan Kaplan Carlton {ends 7/16}

Guest review by: Becki Bayley

Back in the parking lot, we dropped our pocketbooks in the Savoy and found a wooden sign carved with yellow letters for the Walk-Up Trail—one mile to the summit. We climbed single file—Nattie, then me, then Mother. The ascent was gentle to start, skipping over smooth stones, but the trail soon turned heart-thumpy. The ground was strewn with rocks, with tall grasses, their roots forced up through the stone, and with little yellow daisies that were impossible not to love. It was hard to keep our footing, Nattie in her slick-soled Mary Janes, and Mother and me in low-heeled pumps. I tried to imagine hauling a pine cross and a jug of kerosene up this path. I tried to imagine hating someone enough to strike a match.

Nattie hummed a ditty over and over and over, and Mother was silent for what must’ve been twenty minutes.

At the top, there were giant depressions in the stone, little ponds filled with water, filled with life, filled with shrimp—of all things to be filled with. The rest of the summit was moonlike. There were no signs of burnings. Maybe the ash had floated off the mountain into the ether of constellations.

When Ruth Robb moves with her mother and her younger sister from New York to Atlanta after her father’s death, she finds out the world can be a very different place, at the same time.

Official synopsis:
Book Review and GIVEAWAY: In the Neighborhood of True, by Susan Kaplan Carlton {ends 7/16}
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.

With a whole new life in Atlanta, Ruth wants to be popular, and her grandmother, Fontaine, can help her get there. Unfortunately, she has to deny the parts of her that are impossible to make popular, like being Jewish. At first, she’s willing to do exactly that for her own pre-debutante success, and continuing the family legacy of Magnolia Queens. Ruth’s mother’s rules say that Ruth can do what makes her happy, but she has to trade off by doing what makes her mother happy and attending synagogue meetings.

Ruth’s voice in telling the story sounds quite true. She really wants to have it all work out, but what starts as one of the best nights of her life soon becomes the night when she learns that she’ll have to make choices about what to stand for if she really wants to be happy with herself. Sometimes being just ‘in the neighborhood of true’ isn’t enough.

The unique viewpoint in this book gave a great perspective of the struggle of being Jewish and discriminated against or attacked in the 1950s and 1960s. I’d give it 4 out of 5 stars.

{click here to purchase}

Becki Bayley also blogs at


Two of my lucky readers will win a copy of In The Neighborhood of True!

Enter via the widget below. Giveaway will end on Thursday, July 16th, at 11:59pm EST and winner will be notified via email the next day, and have 24 hours to respond, or an alternate winner will be chosen.

U.S. residents only, please.

Good luck!

In the Neighborhood of True, by Susan Kaplan Carlton


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