cover image In the Neighborhood of True

In the Neighborhood of True

Susan Kaplan Carlton. Algonquin, $17.95 (320p) ISBN 978-1-61620-860-8

Following her Jewish father’s death, Ruth Robb moves from New York City to Atlanta in the summer of 1958. Ruth, her mother, and her younger sister, Nattie, live in her grandparents’ guesthouse, and Ruth encounters differences surrounding life in the South, where lipstick melts, a girdle goes on more easily when it’s stored in the freezer, and her world seems shaped by balls, clubs, debs, comportment, and etiquette. Ruth makes fast friendships with Gracie, Claudia, and Thurston-Ann, and she develops a crush on charming Davis, but she remains “secretly Jewish,” attending synagogue on the sly. Her mother, a local reporter, encourages her to be honest and an individual, but Ruth thinks that it feels “good to be part of a whole, even something flowery, even something brown around the edges.” When a hate crime shakes the town, Ruth develops larger concerns than keeping her dance card full and must reassess who she wants to be and who she will stand beside. Carlton captures the racism, anti-Semitism, and social interactions of the time and place with admirable nuance. The dialogue and setting are meticulously constructed, and readers will feel the humidity and tension rising with each chapter. Ages 14–up. Agent: Rosemary Stimola, Stimola Literary Studio. (Apr.)