Thank you to St. Martins Press for gifting me an advanced copy of A Good Neighborhood by Therese Anne Fowler.
“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 a historic oak tree in Valerie’s yard, and soon after, the blossoming romance between their two teenagers.”
When I finished the last page of this book, I sat it down and immediately thought ‘this book wasn’t for me’. Later while talking to my husband about the book, I said the same thing to him and he asked why I felt that way. Which made me pause and reflect on why my first inclination was to say that I didn’t like this story.
I didn’t like this story because it was uncomfortable and it was heavy. I could see the events playing out in real-time; at some point in our country, there has been an event occur that is similar to what is portrayed in A Good Neighborhood. The feelings that are felt, the situations that unfold, the tragedy that ensues… those are all things that have happened within our country.
So, yes, I didn’t like this book. But, I didn’t like it because it felt real. Therese Anne Fowler did an incredible job writing a book that makes the reader feel uncomfortable, tense, angry, disappointed and just down-right sad. My heart ached for Xavier and Valerie. I was uprooted from my comfortable chair and transplanted deep within the pages of this book and had to face some incredibly uncomfortable situations and watch them play out while holding my breath and hoping, desperately, for a different outcome.
This is a heavy read but I encourage everyone to read it as it will cause you to stop and truly think about what it means to be a good neighbor.
Thank you to Therese Anne Fowler and St. Martin’s Press for gifting me a copy of this book. A Good Neighborhood will be published on February 4, 2020.