A Good Neighborhood by Therese Ann 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, who’s headed to college in the fall. All is well until the Whitmans―a family with new money and a secretly troubled teenage daughter―raze the house and trees next door to build themselves a showplace.
With little in common except a property line, these two 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.
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 love in a story that’s as provocative as it is powerful.
March 10th, 2020
Literary Fiction/Family Life Fiction/Coming of Age Fiction
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Author Therese Anne Fowler has written a book that is both compelling and provocative. A Good Neighborhood is super timely and I know this will be one that is talked about at length this coming year.
The novel delves into issues of young love, race, gender, family, identity, socioeconomic issues, community, and sexual consent. While the writing is complex it also kept me on the edge of my seating while reading it.
While this book was heavy with thought-provoking and important topics, it is completely readable and engaging. I found the narration told through the collective voice of the main character’s neighbors was unique and nuanced. This way of storytelling lets the characters come through in a layered and multifaceted manner.
While some of the storylines were fairly predictable, it was so only because so much of what this fiction novel focuses around is all too relatable in today’s real-world and polarizing political climate.
There were parts of this book that stood out to me more than others but all in all this book is not to be missed. The many complexities to the characters and storyline made this especially gripping and it would make an amazing book club discussion.
Thank you to St. Martin’s Press for an advanced copy in exchange for an honest review.
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