Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Release Date: March 10, 2020
Genre: Adult Fiction / Contemporary / Literary Fiction
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 an historic oak tree in Valerie’s yard, and soon after, the blossoming romance between their two teenagers.
Song/s the book brought to mind: Coming Home by Keith Urban
YOU BROKE MY HEART THERESE ANNE FOWLER! Man this was rough guys! At the end of A Good Neighborhood I had tears streaming down my face and I could barely see the pages. I would highly recommend keeping a tissue box close to your side for the end of this one.
There are some majorly heavy themes in A Good Neighborhood including racism and sexism. For much of the book you feel like you will be safe but then Fowler jerks the rug out from under you and it becomes something that will hit a lot of people extremely hard.
I love that the author put the acknowledgements at the front of the book (although I had to read them again after I was done), and came right out saying she was fully aware she was a white author writing from African American viewpoints, and shared a quote from when she heard Zadie Smith speak. I could tell she cared about getting things right and I appreciated that since I’m white myself and would have no idea how to properly write from that viewpoint. There are some stereotypes in this book, but they seemed to be accurate ones at least.
A Good Neighborhood is fairly short at just 311 pages, but don’t let that fool you because it sure packs a wallop! I really enjoyed the ‘we’ perspective although it will probably bother some readers. I did find it a tiny bit frustrating at the end when all I wanted to know was what was going to happen, but overall I enjoyed that viewpoint and thought it was a nice addition to the book. I also really liked the voice it is written in overall and I liked that it was very unique and different from a lot of what I usually read.
It did feel a little slow going at the beginning but after a few chapters I was hooked and the rest of the book felt like it was speeding by. I definitely had some love/hate relationships going on with a few of the characters and some parts just made me so mad. A Good Neighborhood really makes you FEEL things and it’s not going to be something I forget any time soon.
I’ve already started working on my list of top 10 books for the year and I can tell you now A Good Neighborhood is definitely on it! I haven’t read this author before and although I know her expertise is technically historical fiction (which I like), I will for sure be reading her other books now and anything she writes after this. I can’t sing enough praises for this book and I think it is such a timely novel and one that you don’t want to miss.
MY RATING: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ / 5
Thank you to the publisher for providing me with an advance review copy of this book, all opinions and thoughts are my own.