Read, Reviewed and Really liked!

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As I’ve previously mentioned, I’ve been reading In The Neighborhood of True by Susan Kaplan Carlton. I have written about the book as I was reading it and finally here’s my review. I found the book to be as enticing and intricately worded as its title. The book explores the complicated world of Ruth Robb, a Jewish teen from New York City transported to the heart of the South. The reason for such a drastic change is the sudden death of her father. If all this isn’t enough, the book takes place during 1958 in South Carolina. Ruth finds herself keeping her Judaism a secret from everybody in one part of her life, like those at her Christian school and in the Debutante Society. She is still a part of Jewish Congregation in her town of Charleston and leading another life there. Her desperate struggle to cover all the bases leading two separate lives is perfectly captured by Carlton. Carlton also tells Ruth’s coming of age and develops her character through just the right lense. Carlton pushes forward with ideas I am drawn to even as a teen living today. Ruth wants to be accepted in the Debutante circle, and finds first love there. She still attends services at her Temple, and finds community there. Carlton writes about the poise and glory of the Southern Ball and Debutante world, and the sometimes true and ugly meaning behind those words. The urge behind people to simply shut off, to push away anything that doesn’t act or look exactly like them. The book is like a ball on a hill, it starts off slow and steady, but by the end it’s racing and crashing to the finish. The way the book moves reflects the movement of the main character. Reading this book I felt a deep connection to the main character, as she experiences the devastation of the bombing of the Hebrew Benevolent Congregation Temple first hand, and I too live in a chaotic world. In 2019 in the United States there have been 3 terrifying attacks on Jewish institutions. I can’t imagine being a young Jewish woman in the United States during 1958 in the midst of a highly antisemitic atmosphere, I can’t imagine the fear. Despite the horrific feelings around it, Carlton sees through the smoke and the rubble, she makes sure that the stories are heard, and that the fear is seen. If we don’t look fear in the eye, we can’t face it. 

 

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