My Rating: 5/5
In Oak Knoll, a verdant, tight-knit North Carolina neighborhood, professor of forestry and ecology Valerie Alston-Holt is raising her bright and talented biracial son. Xavier is headed to college in the fall, and after years of single parenting, Valerie is facing the prospect of an empty nest. All is well until the Whitmans move in next door―an apparently traditional family with new money, ambition, and a secretly troubled teenaged daughter.
Thanks to his thriving local business, Brad Whitman is something of a celebrity around town, and he’s made a small fortune on his customer service and charm, while his wife, Julia, escaped her trailer park upbringing for the security of marriage and homemaking. Their new house is more than she ever imagined for herself, and who wouldn’t want to live in Oak Knoll? With little in common except a property line, these two very different families quickly find themselves at odds: first, over an historic oak tree in Valerie’s yard, and soon after, the blossoming romance between their two teenagers.
Told from multiple points of view, A Good Neighborhood asks big questions about life in America today―What does it mean to be a good neighbor? How do we live alongside each other when we don’t see eye to eye?―as it explores the effects of class, race, and heartrending star-crossed love in a story that’s as provocative as it is powerful.
Because it’s in the telling of a tragedy that we sow the seeds – we hope – of prevention of future sorrows.Therese Anne Fowler – A Good Neighborhood
And what a tragedy!!!
This book tore my heart out and stomped on it….and oh how I loved every word.
There are not enough stars to explain just how affected I was by this novel – the characters will stay in my head and heart for a long time to come.
A superbly written, character-driven novel; A Good Neighborhood is a masterpiece. A powerful and timely portrait of race, religion, class, wealth and the injustices inherent in the American judicial system. It is a heartwrenching tale of two teenagers, Xavier and Juniper, who fall madly in love; a love that tears a neighborhood apart. A budding romance facing a devastating conclusion.
Things I liked:
- Love them or hate them, every single character demand an emotional response; each has a story that needs to be told and felt.
- The narrator (a neighbor) moves between time frames and settings; explaining the back story of each character; often jumping in with a little sidenote or opinion of his/her own.
- The themes of social injustice, white privilege, religious conservatism, abuse and power.
- The inclusion of a book club; a group of like-minded socially and environmentally aware women who love to read.
Things I didn’t like:
- The character of Brad and everything he stood for. Narcissistic, corrupt, abusive…a real CREEP!!!!
- The conclusion for Brad….while he did get what he deserved, I don’t feel like that was explored enough…I wanted to feel him suffer…oh my vengeful heart!
- The tragic and senseless ending.
In a sentence: Be prepared to feel all the feels.
Thanks to St Martin’s Press via NetGalley for the ARC. Expected publication 11th February 2020.