Tru and Nelle: A Christmas Tale
by G. Neri
Neri, G. Tru and Nelle: A Christmas Tale. New York: HMH Books for Young Readers, 2017.
Tru moved away from his mother’s cousins home in Monroeville, Alabama. He thought living in New York with his mother and step-father would be fun but after a stint in a military academy, Tru runs away.
He hops on a train with other hobos and heads back to Monroeville. He becomes friends again with Nelle who lives next door to his cousins. It’s the Christmas season but events happen which dampen everyone’s spirits: the house the cousins live in burns down and they move in with Tru’s aunt and uncle on their farm outside Monroeville.
Nelle’s father takes on a case of two black men accused of robbing a store and killing its owner. Nelle blames herself for arrest. Reminiscent of the case in To KIll A Mockingbird, this case doesn’t end happily, either. The story does reaffirm the better side of the human spirit when Tru and his family and Nelle and her father celebrate Christmas with the accused in the local jail.
WHY I LOVED READING THIS BOOK:
In a surprising twist, Tru’s cousin, Sook, invites a member of the KKK to the celebration. Only his son, the local bully, shows up and demonstrates how beautifully he plays piano. It doesn’t turn everyone into good friends but the incident highlights how complex race relations were during the Jim Crow era in the South.
Tru and Nelle: A Christmas Tale is the continuing narrative of the friendship between Truman Capote and Harper Lee which continued into adulthood (until Truman Capote became jealous of Harper Lee’s literary success).
Monroeville, Alabama was founded in 1815 on lands ceded by local Native americans. It was later formally incorporated in 1899 and named after President James Monroe. Monroeville is the seat of Monroe County, Alabama. In 1997, the Alabama legislature designated Monroeville as the “Literary Capital of Alabama.”