Skip to main content

In The Neighborhood of True Excerpt


Today I'm doing something I've never done before! I've partnered with Algonquin Books for Young Readers to bring you the first chapter of The Neighborhood of True by Susan Kaplan Carlton. I'm excited to let you dive into the story, and if you get hooked, you won't have to wait too long to read the rest of the book. It comes out on April 9th and can be preordered here*
The book is set in 1958 Atlanta where Ruth has just moved from New York City. She hides her Jewish faith to fit in with the Southern society and be a debutante until a horrifying hate crime forces Ruth to come forward and speak out. All too timely, this book is getting tons of buzz and is a wonderful addition to the YA world that I can't wait to read as well! 



 1
The Whole Truth

1959

The navy dress was just where I'd left it, hanging hollow as a compliment behind the gown I'd worn to the Magnolia  Ball the night everything went to hell in a handbasket.
I thought of Davis and his single dimple and how his hand had hovered at the small of my back, making me feel its phantom weight even when he wasn't touching me. I thought of a diflerent day and a diflerent dress, this one with sunburst pleats-how he'd unzipped it and fanned it out on  the grass that night at the club, how the air was sweet as taffy, and how when we rejoined his family I'd wondered if every pleat was back in place.
"Ruth!" Mother's voice burst into the closet. "Not the morning to dillydally."

"Coming," I said, but I did the opposite of not-dallying. I put the navy dress on over my slip and sat, right there on the closet floor, not giving a fig about wrinkles. It was as if my nerves had pitched the world ten degrees to the left and I had to plunk down to find my balance.
It was cool at  the  back  of the  closet-in  what  I'd  come to think of as my New York section, the land of navies and blacks and grays-where the floor was concrete, smooth and solid beneath me.
When we'd first arrived here at the end of an airless sum­ mer, Mother, who'd changed  from  Mom  to  Mother  when we crossed the Mason-Dixon Line, told her parents, whom we'd always  called  Fontaine  and Mr.  Hank,  that  Nattie and I needed wall-to-wall carpet to cushion  our landing. Maybe  we needed cushioning after the shock of our father's death, or maybe we needed cushioning after moving from our apart­ ment in New York to our  grandparents'  guesthouse  behind the dogwoods. Either way, the next afternoon,  two  men turned up with a roll of white carpet and stapled it over every square inch of the place, save for the closets.
Just like that, we were blanketed in an ironic, improbable snowstorm.
"Now, Ruthie," Mother said, on the other side of the door.

I stood up and pulled in, feeling the dread in my chest prickle from the inside out.
The dress reminded me of Leslie Caron in An  American in Paris, except I was an American in Atlanta , and in the six months I'd been here, my  taste and  I  had gone  from simple to posh to simple again. If the girls in  the pastel posse were in the courtroom today, I bet they'd be in shades of sherbet, rays of sunshine against the February sky.
Today, I didn't want to be sunny.
Today, I wanted to be Plain Ruth, teller of truth.


On the drive  downtown,  Mother  said,  "You  be  your­ self up there, Ruthie. It doesn't have to get ugly." Her short bangs curled down her foreh ead like a question mark.
Here, nothing was suppos ed to get ugly.
As we passed the putting greens on Northside, I watched the trees sway, thinking that  winter was diflerent-  prettier­ in a place where the trees cared enough about their leaves to hold on to them year-round. And also thinking that prettiness had to be planned, th at the sprinklers had to work hard to keep the perfect green lawn from turning back to plain red clay.
I cranked down the window, needing to feel the air.


We were twelve minutes late. Mother was often late, a leftover New York a:fiectation, but today my dallying about dresses had held us up. For a half second, I paused in front of the large door with FULTON COUNTY SUPERIOR COURT etched in gold, then inhaled and turned the knob gently, hoping to avoid a clang.
Clang.
A hundred or more heads swiveled in my direction.
Mother dropped her smile, but then she touched  her pearls and reassembled herself. I followed her lead, hand to my throat, where my own string of pearls-along with my stomach and other major organs-had taken up residence.
The courtroom was impressive, with a soaring ceiling and sunlight flooding in from impossibly tall windows. It looked not unlike the temple at the center of the trouble.
The pastel posse was here after all. I tried to catch Gracie's eye, but she was busy tugging her apricot twinset into place. Mother and I walked past Rabbi Selwick and his wife, both turned out in tweed, and I thought of him at our house with his daughter and her gift of peach preserves. Behind them were women in fur and men in pinstripes. The couples­ probably from the Club-looked like they were waiting for a tray of martinis to glide by.
Mother stepped into the third row, and I slid next to her. Davis was five feet away, at the defendant's table. The collar of his white oxford shirt, crisp and starched, poked out above his blazer. I couldn't tell a single thing Davis was thinking, from looking at the back of his very handsome head.
The attorney nodded to me and twisted his mouth. "You're late." To the judge he said, "We apologize for the delay, Your Honor. We call Ruth Robb to the stand."
My pumps click-clicked on the marble floor. A woman with coral lipstick motioned for me to sit in the witness chair, like on Perry Mason. Goose bumps inched up my arms. I wished I'd thought to bring a cardigan.
She turned to me and said, "Raise your right hand and repeat after me."
I raised my  hand  and  noticed  a  sunburst  carved  into the paneling over the door I'd just walked through, a little moment of brightness.
"Other right," she said.
''I'm sorry." I raised my other hand. "I'm terrible with left and right. I always-"
"Miss-" the judge said, looking down at a note card. "Miss Robb. No need to talk now." He had gray hair and half-glasses, and he gave a half smile.
And I thought: But that's why I'm here. Because I couldn't keep my mouth shut.
The woman picked up a Bible, and I placed my free hand over its worn leather cover. I knew there were two Bibles- one for whites and one for Negroes. I knew because Rabbi Selwick was on a mission to have Negro witnesses use the same Bible as the rest of Atlanta. I thought about asking for the Negro Bible, even though every single person in the court­ room was white, but as the judge himself had said: "No need to talk now."
"Do you swear on this Bible the testimony you are about to give is the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, so help you God?" the woman asked.
In the distance,  I  heard  a sprinkler  turn  on. Tsk, tsk, tsk. I glanced at the Bible, the King James version, and it occurred to me I was swearing on the sacred text of another religion, that there wasn't a Tanakh for Jews to pledge their truthfulness upon .
I wanted Davis to look up. I wanted to see if his tie was straight. I wanted to see if he' d nicked himself shaving. I wanted to see the constellation of freckles across his eyelids. I wanted to see how he looked when he looked at me.
And then he did-his true-blue eyes locked right on mine. I felt the heat slide up my cheeks. Davis, who taught me about the Uncivil War, and blowing perfecta smoke rings, and real honest-to-God French-kissing. Davis, who said he wanted us to get married the second we turned twenty-one.
I swallowed. "I do."



 If You Can't Wait For This Book...
You'll Miss Me When I'm Gone: Review Here
You Asked For Perfect: Review Here
Our Year of Maybe: Review Here

Links of Interest:
Every Moment After: Review Here
What's Coming Up In April: Here
Comics Will Break Your Heart: Review Here
Teen Book Con Wrap Up: Here

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

A Summer of YA

I thought that I would make a bonus post for all of you to celebrate summer finally starting to arrive! I've compiled a list of books that I've read this year and last that either take place in the summer or give me total summer vibes. A lot of these books are ones that I think should get a lot more love. Let me know in the comments what books make you instantly think of summer! I've linked reviews to all of these books in the titles below.




Going Off Script I read it last weekend in nearly a single day because it is such a refreshing, quick read. While I don't think it takes place in the summer and it focuses on a TV internship, it's set in LA which serves up eternal summer vibes.
The Way You Make Me Feel This is one of the ultimate books on my summer playlist. As a punishment for a school prank, Clara has to spend the summer working with her nemesis in her father's food truck. With mouthwatering Korean-Brazilian food, tons of snark, and summer heat, this book is…

Top Reads of 2018

This year's best of 2018 list has tons of new categories to fit all of the amazing books I read this year. I've had the chance to read so many advanced books and recent releases, so most of what I read were books that came out in 2018. I mostly choose contemporary, so I've started with my favorite debut as well as the best books in other genres I've ventured into. After that, I have smaller categories in the contemporary genre. I hope you find new books to love and give to your friends and family for the holidays. If you're interested in learning more about the books on the list, click their titles to go to my reviews. Let me know if these are some of your favorites in the comments, and tell me your favorite books!
Best In Genre Top Debut
Nothing Left To Burn by Heather Ezell Nothing Left To Burn gave me the craziest book hangover. I was so immersed in the story, and I couldn't stop reading to do anything that I actually needed to be doing. There is a toxic relat…

What If It's Us

What If It's Us by Becky Albertalli and Adam Silvera (448 pages)
Overview: Ben and Arthur meet at the post office during a flashmob. Well, Arthur followed Ben into the post office because he thought he was and, and, just as they started talking, in true form with Arthur's New York fantasy, a flash mob erupted. When the boys and split up, Arthur loses his chance at connecting with Ben, but when he can't stop thinking about him, he explores ways to reconnect even in a city of a million empty faces like New York. Even if they can find each other, with Arthur going back to Georgia at the end of the summer, will it even be worth it? Overall: 4/5

Characters: 4.5 I'm not sure what to say about the characters. I liked them enough, but I didn't feel any real attachment to any of them. I liked the cast of friends, but they all lacked a certain weight that would give them a stronger sense of reality. My favorite relationship in the book was the friendship between Dylan and Ben.…

Going Off Script Review

Going Off Script by Jen Wilde (292 pages)
Overview: Bex has dreams of being a show runner, but, first, she has to rise through the ranks of the writers' room. Luckily, she's scored an internship with one of her favorite TV shows, Silver Falls. Unfortunately, the LA dreams she's fought so hard to get aren't as fun as she imagined. The show runner is horrible and even steals a script that Bex wrote. In an environment that has far too many echoes of high school for Bex's taste, she has to figure out how to make the most of her situation. Overall: 4.5

Characters: 4 I really like Bex. She's made a major life change from living in Washington state and working at Sonic with her mother to help support her family. Living with her cousin makes the transition slightly better, but her new life feels both too different and too familiar. Bex is also dealing with understanding her sexuality.  She's nervous about telling her friends and family, even though she knows they'…

Hot Dog Girl Review

Hot Dog Girl by Jennifer Dugan (April 30) 
To Purchase From Your Indie Bookstore*
Overview: Elouise has her summer before senior year (because the summer before senior year is far superior to the summer after), but then everything starts falling apart. Nick, the guy she likes, is still dating princess Jessa. She's the dancing hot dog for the second year in a row at the Magic Castle, the small town amusement park where she works. And then the park announces that it's closing, and Elouise is at a loss. With scheme after scheme, she attempts to save this summer and the ones to come. Overall: 4 

Characters: 5 I like Elouise. She's happy and upbeat, but also a little scattered and unsure. She just kind of traipses from one idea to the next and it all kinda works out with enough finagling. I immediately identified with her because I too have "caramel" hair that won't hold dye, and I burn horribly too. While she's a bit flighty, she's definitely lovable.
Seely&…

The Art of Breaking Things

The Art of Breaking Things by Laura Sibson (June 18)
Overview: Skye was twelve when she was molested by her mother's boyfriend on a camping trip. When she tried to tell her mom that night, her mom brushed her off and was too drunk to remember what happened to Skye. Now a senior in high school, she's lived with the fear and shame for a while, believing that her mother doesn't believe her. She's tried to cope with alcohol, drugs, and art, and she's starting to heal when Dan comes back into their lives. Now with her younger sister Emma turning twelve, Skye is filled with fear, panic, and flashbacks as her family starts to fall apart again. She has to decide if and how she wants to speak out to stop her mother from marrying her abuser. Overall: 5

Characters: 5 Skye is an amazing character. She's so strong, but she feels like she has to be. Her secret eats her alive, and she does whatever she can to drown it with drugs or emotional outbursts. She's trying to cope …

Virtually Yours Review

Virtually Yours by Sarvenaz Tash (June 4)
Overview: Miriam has been in a funk since she started NYU. More accurately, she's been down since her boyfriend of three years broke up with her because long distance would be "too hard". It all changes, though when Miriam decides to try a new virtual reality dating service called HEAVR. The only problem, though, is that when she accidentally matches with her ex-boyfriend, the draw of a second chance is too much to pass up. After concealing her identity, Miriam starts a hoax to get him to fall for her again. Overall: 4 

Characters: 4 I liked Miriam, especially as the story progressed and she became more sure of herself. It allowed her personality to shine and gave her more dimensions than she started with. In the end, I was definitely rooting her.
Her friends at NYU are great additions to the story. Miriam's roommate Hedy is a major film buff, and, while it's pretty much her singular trait, she does offer some good advice a…

This Is Not a Test

This Is Not a Test by Courtney Summers (326 pages)
Overview: Sloane wanted to end her life. And then the apocalypse came. Her focus suddenly turns to survival because that's what she's supposed to do. She finds a group of other teens from her school, and they survive in the infected city for seven days before finding shelter in the high school. With all the doors barricaded and the necessities provided, suddenly, there's room to think, reflect, and feel again, and their safe haven quickly turns into a cage. Overall: 5 

Characters: 5 This cast has blown me away. Courtney Summers in general has done that with every aspect of the novel, but the characters are all so detailed and unique and flawed and emotional and broken. It makes for the perfect novel.
Sloane has recently had her sister leave without her, even though the plan was for them to escape their abusive father together. Without Lily, she feels her life has no point, but when it's seriously threatened, something co…

What's Coming Up In June

I'm super excited to finally be jumping into summer! June already has a ton of amazing books on the way, and it looks like the rest of the summer is jam packed as well. I'm excited to have more time to write and work on the blog! For Saturday discussions, I'm thinking about talking about graduation and maybe my experience with the SAT this month along with some more bookish thoughts. I'll also be working on a summer reading list of summery books from the past some that are coming out!  Let me know in the comments if there are certain posts or topics you'd like to see from me. Happy summer everyone! Dissenter On The Bench Ruth Bader Ginsburg is amazing. I was super excited to stumble upon a new YA biography about her! I'll be sharing my review of the book on Friday the 31st of May. 

Virtually Yours More college YA! This time, an NYU freshman decides to try a new VR dating app. Inside their system, she reconnects with her exboyfriend under a fake name. Slowly, both a…

Is YA For Me?

I've seen a lot of different conversations taking place on Twitter that all come back to a central theme. The YA space is controlled by adults. For the most part, they are the ones with the purchasing power, they have jobs in the industry, they are in a better position to amplify their voices about how they feel about different books and the category as a whole. I've been thinking about these conversations as a whole, and it really does come back to the intended audience not owning the space and what that means for the category and the conversations around it.
As a teen who's heavily involved in the YA community, I sometimes feel awkward reading all the different, slightly varied takes from adults. Some make blanket statements for themselves and some work with teens and try to be a conduit to add them to the conversation. Very rarely do I come across a real teen who gets an amplified voice in the conversation (definitely go check out Vicky Who Reads on Twitter because, as…