Review Detail

Young Adult Fiction 857
One of the most authentic portrayals of teen girlhood I've ever read
Overall rating 
 
4.3
Plot 
 
4.0
Characters 
 
5.0
Writing Style 
 
4.0
IN THE NEIGHBORHOOD OF TRUE follows Ruth Robb in the aftermath of her father's death, moving from New York to Atlanta in 1958. At first, Ruth is dazzled by the city, the debutante season, the people, and the fashion. But she quickly realizes that being Jewish and being accepted don't go hand in hand in her new town. On Saturday mornings, she's at the temple with her mother and sister, and on Saturday nights, she's attending mixers and going to an all-white, all-Christian Club. When a hate crime is committed at the temple she's come to find a home in, Ruth must decide whether or not to speak her truth before it's too late.

There is so much to love about this powerful historical novel. Firstly, the premise highlights an event in history often overlooked: the bombing on a Jewish temple in Atlanta in the 1950s. Antisemitism did not stop after World War II, nor was it confined to European countries. Ruth struggles with the challenges of being both Jewish and a teen girl. She is grieving from the loss of her father, shaken by the move, and desperately wants to make friends, make her grandmother proud, and maybe even fall in love.

While some might read her desire to be popular as shallow, I would argue the exact opposite. Ruth is seeking connections and seeking ways to make her new life happy. She's still learning what it means to be a full self, to find and accept your own identities with honesty, while facing immense pressure of social and cultural norms.

Another aspect I really appreciate about this story is its inclusion of other types of discrimination and hate. Antisemitism is not the only problem at this time; Jim Crow and other racist regulations and attitudes are rampant as well. Nothing exists in a bubble, and Ruth is quickly seeing how everything is connected.

In short, IN THE NEIGHBORHOOD OF TRUE has one of the most honest, multifaceted, and authentic portrayals of teen girlhood I've ever read. This is a must for readers of historical fiction, particularly areas that receive less attention.
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