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Tru & Nelle
A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Tru & Nelle reimagines the early friendship of renowned authors Truman Capote (A Christmas Memory) and Harper Lee (To Kill a Mckingbird). G. Neri bases the story on real events and shows many characters, places, and events that inspired later works by Capote and Lee. Set in Monroeville, Alabama, in the 1930s, the novel doesn't shrink from the poverty and racism of the times: There are menacing Klansmen and a planned cross burning, horrendous treatment of African-American people, and people suffering deprivation during the Great Depression. But it also shows great compassion and courage on the part of children and adults. The story celebrates the imaginative adventures of kids generally left to their own devices by the adults around them. Nelle's mother is largely absent, hospitalized due to mental illness. Tru's parents are callous and emotionally cruel, abandoning him with relatives and treating him dismissively. But the kids are supported and encouraged by extended family, including relatives and domestic workers.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
Tru, 7, and Nelle, 6, first encounter each other on a summer day in Monroeville, Alabama. He's fussy, she's bold, and they're both precocious. They swiftly discover a shared love for books, particularly the mysteries of Sherlock Holmes. The friends wish to have a mystery of their own to solve, and soon one materializes: a couple of broken windows, mysterious references to snakes, and a trail of pecans. Investigating an honest-to-goodness mystery is great fun, at first, but the friends soon run into sinister goings-on. Their adventures together sow the seeds for the stories they'll become known for as adults.
Is it any good?
For fans of Harper Lee and Truman Capote, reading this lively yarn is like visiting friends -- and for newcomers, it's a magical way to meet two writers whose friendship (and rivalry) are legend. Although it's a fictionalized account of Lee and Capote's formative years, TRU & NELLE leans heavily on the authors' published work and tales of their childhood. Author G. Neri weaves in a small-town mystery and tucks in six short stories as if they're written by young Nelle and Tru, with a goal to "capture the poetic truths of a moment in time." It's an engaging snapshot, albeit taken with a somewhat soft-focus, nostalgic lens. This is a perfect summer read to inspire kids to go outside and explore and turn those adventures into stories.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the give and take of friendship. How do Tru and Nelle influence each other? Do you have any friendships like theirs?
How does this story change the way you view stories written by Harper and Capote?
The story is a nostalgic look at how Nelle and Tru spent their days as young children. Are your own summer experiences with friends similar or different?
- Author: G. Neri
- Genre: Historical Fiction
- Topics: Adventures, Book Characters, Friendship, Misfits and Underdogs
- Book type: Fiction
- Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers
- Publication date: March 1, 2016
- Publisher's recommended age(s): 9 - 12
- Number of pages: 336
- Available on: Nook, Audiobook (unabridged), Hardback, iBooks, Kindle
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.