Book review: Tru & Nelle: A Christmas Tale, by G. Neri

Neri, G. Tru & Nelle: A Christmas Tale. Houghton, 2017. $16.99. 291p. ISBN 978-1-328-68598-8. Ages 10-13. P7Q9

This sequel to Neri’s first book about Harper Lee, author of To Kill a Mockingbird, and Trump Capote, author of several books and short stories, covers two Christmases during the 1930s in the small town of Monroe (AL). The first Christmas surrounds a custody battle when 11-year-old Tru picks his neglectful mother in hopes she will love him. Two years later when Nelle is 11, he runs away from a military boarding school and returns to his relatives, only to see their house burn down. The mélange of characters shows their love for one another while they follow the segregation and Jim Crow values of the time as the two white children befriend black characters and seek their help. Although Nelle plays an integral part, Tru’s development is a focus as he talks about his first kiss with a boy, fights the son of a KKK leader, and comes to terms with his relationship with his mother. He also witnesses the trial of two black men that inspired the scene in Lee’s novel. A final chapter describes how Nelle is given the money to take a year off in New York City where she writes her famous novel.

Verdict: A clear picture of the South as it struggles with prejudice of class and race is set against a warm friendship between two young people.

December 2017 review by Nel Ward

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