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.
About The Author:
Susan Kaplan Carlton, a longtime magazine writer, currently teaches writing at Boston University. She lived for a time with her family in Atlanta, where her daughters learned the fine points of etiquette from a little pink book and learned the power of social justice from their synagogue. Carlton’s writing has appeared in Self, Elle, Mademoiselle, Seventeen, Parents, and elsewhere. She is the author of the young adult novels Love & Haight, which was named a Best Book for Young Adults by YALSA and a Best Book by the Children’s Book Committee at Bank Street Books, and Lobsterland.
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My Rating: 3.5/5 Stars
Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
Finally a Jewish historical fiction book that isn’t set during WW2!!!! My little jewish heart is so happy. I’m seriously loving how many different perspectives on Judaism we’ve been getting and I can’t wait to see more.
I absolutely loved how Carlton depicted the character of Ruth, as she struggled between keeping true to her faith and hiding her faith in order to be popular. I thought it was an interesting premise and I really enjoyed seeing how everything played out. I thought that the way that Ruth’s conflicting emotions were portrayed was done extremely well. She had so many interesting thoughts and revelations that are especially relevant in today’s political climate.
The subject of this book is one that is really important. I feel like a lot of people see anti-semitism as this very distant issue that ceased to be a problem once the war ended, and fail to understand just how pervasive the bigotry was and continues to be. By showing this untold part of Jewish history, I think it will really help in spreading awareness onto a subject that many people don’t see as an issue. Just because Jews aren’t in concentration camps, doesn’t mean discrimination no longer occurs. I actually learned a lot from this book and I had no idea about the bombings of synagogues during this time period.It’s made me want to look more closely at my people’s history to better understand how we’re at where we are now.
While I really enjoyed the premise of the book and the character development of Ruth, at times that the execution wasn’t as strong as it could be. All the elements were there , there was just a little something missing. One of my main problems was with the voice and dialogue. First thing was that the dialogue was really stiff at times and it just felt really unnatural to me as I was reading. The other thing was that the voice of Ruth sounded quite immature to me at times. She’s supposed to be a junior in high school, but she really doesn’t sound like one at all. Honestly I feel like this book could’ve been possibly been a middle grade novel. There’s a few parts that wouldn’t really work as a middle grade, but the overall tone seemed very juvenile to me. This may be because of the time period though, but even when taking that into consideration, it seemed a little off.
The last thing is that I wish there was more!! It just felt way too short for me. I feel like the really intriguing stuff was rushed and wrapped up too hastily, when those plot elements could have easily been the crux of the novel. I was really getting into the end, and it was just done and I was really disappointed.
“I bought of all those nights, at the club and not at the club, and how I’d still somehow never seen a constellation. And I thought, constellations weren’t the point. Constellations were just a bunch of separate stars. They didn’t become constellations until you connected them, one to another. Like families, like sisters, like friendship, like prayers.
And anyway, it turned out Nattie was memorizing all eighty-eight constellations. I didn’t need David in order to fall in love with the night sky.”
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Start Date: April 3rd 2019
End: April 16th 2019