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.
I want to start out by saying antisemitism and racism are a huge part of this book, so if that’s something you are not comfortable with I would skip this book.
The story is about a girl named Ruth who has moved with her mother and sisters to Atlanta from New York after her father passed away. She is quickly thrust into a different atmosphere and way of life as this book is based in the 1950s
The Town and people Ruth interacts with are predominantly white Christians and no one realizes that Ruth’s mother was married to a Jewish man. She also converted herself and children and plans to raise them Jewish even after his passing. The one thing I didn’t like was how the grandmother acted as though this was a stain on their family as though Alice was stupid to marry a Jewish man and start a family. I really wish someone would have stood up to her or confronted her.
The writing and overall story were very well written, but the Bombings and events happen in the last 15%-20% of the book. I think had the author written these to happen sooner, you could have gotten a more emotional and deeper story following those events and what happened throughout the community.
I will say the pacing in this book was so slow, so take that into consideration when you pick this one up. I wanted to DNF so many times just because it was so slow to pick up and so much dialogue that really just felt like fluff to me.
The one really good lesson that stood out to me throughout this book was to stay true to yourself and not change for anyone. Ruth hid herself to fit in and be apart of the cool kid group, but at what cost? When I was in my teens, I was easily just as naive and would have done the same, but this story showed you have to stay true to yourself and what’s in your heart. You can’t let the cruel world crumple you up and break you.
Overall I gave this book 3.5 – 4 stars because it is an important story and so heart wrenching at moments. I just felt like there was way too much build up to the bombings and more fluff than needed to be.
Want a preview, here is the first 6 pages