A powerful story of love, identity, and the price of fitting in or speaking out.
“The story may be set in the past, but it couldn’t be a more timely reminder that true courage comes not from fitting in, but from purposefully standing out . . . and that to find out who you really are, you have to first figure out what you’re not.” —Jodi Picoult, New York Times bestselling author of A Spark of Light and Small Great Things
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.
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.