**Thank you so much to Algonquin Young Readers for the chance to be a part of this blog tour.**
After her dad passes away, Ruth moves from 1950s NYC to Atlanta with her mom and her sister Nattie. Soon she finds herself enthralled with the southern charm of sweet tea and debutantes. She’s drawn to the new culture and yearns to be a part of the “pastel posse”, a group of all white and Christian girls who spend their time flaunting in dresses at debutantes and dances. But in order to do so, Ruth must keep her identity as a Jew a secret.
However, among the Southern charm are flaws that Ruth can’t come to terms with. In the time of Jim Crow and KKK, with society denouncing those who aren’t white, or blonde, or Christian, Ruth finds herself constantly dodging racial and religious slurs. But when something terrible happens in her neighborhood, Ruth has to decide whether to stay hidden or speak out.
Ruth is such a great character to follow and her struggles feel so authentic and relatable. She’s constantly trying to find a balance between following the norm and following what she believes, which often are pitted against each other. These two polarities not only play out in her beliefs but also in the people she knows. She falls for the charming Davis who is part of the all-white, all-Christian Club, but also befriends Max, who encourages her to fight for social justice. When a dynamite is planted in her local Synagogue, Ruth suspects who planted it, but to tell the truth means to let go of the facade that she’s created for herself. She’s such a strong character to follow, and it was such a joy to watch her decide and finding strength from within.
It was such an eye opening read in learning about the prejudices against Jews outside of the historical WWII setting, and it was a little shocking how relevant some things still are. The book came out at such a pertinent time. It’s a beautiful read and the message is such an important one. Truly recommend reading the book!
About the Author
Susan Kaplan Carlton currently teaches writing at Boston University. She is the author of the YA novels Love & Haight and Lobsterland. Her writing has also appeared in Self, Elle, Mademoiselle, and Seventeen. She lived for a time with her family in Atlanta, where her daughters learned the finer points of etiquette from a little pink book and the power of social justice from their synagogue.