A Masterful and Beautifully Written Piece of Fiction | Review: A Good Neighborhood by Therese Anne Fowler

8:30 AM

Another bright-side to an otherwise bleak year: A Good Neighborhood is truly a stunning novel. 2020 might be sending in the clowns and punching as all, but at least the literary world is feeding us. Right?

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 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.

A Good Neighborhood by Therese Anne Fowler
Rating: ★★★☆☆ (3.5)
 As always, a copy of this book was provided by the authors in exchange for my honest review. This does not effect my opinion in any way.   

As far as first experiences with an author goes, A Good Neighborhood is a dazzling example of the 'good' category. No pun intended.

To be fair, I was both equally excited and hesitant about eventually getting to my ARC of this novel. Namely because, as of late last year, when this book was mailed to me, , a great many of my most anticipated titles have fallen short of my expectations. Not only because of the perpetual bad-mood that comes with our state of the world.

Thankfully, A Good Neighborhood proved to be a welcome addition to my shelves and truly made for a delightful read. And the fact of the matter is that I should have given this novel a fair shot sooner--because it's definitely worthy of the spotlight and I was clearly missing out. Better late than never, right?

Let's get down to the basics: There's this surprisingly mysterious quality to Therese Anne Fowler's prose that makes for A Good Neighborhood to be so engaging and, ultimately, memorable. I found myself annotating many pages in the story. As for flaws, A Good Neighborhood has many (including pacing issues at varied points, which made for a slowed experience) but isn't necessarily defined by any of them. At the end of the day, this a solid work of fiction that isn't quite what you'd expect. 

Based on the synopsis alone, I had the wrong impression of where this novel was destined to go. I'm not sure readers will expect the many heights this one will take them, but that is what makes reading it so engaging.

A Good Neighborhood surprised me on so many levels with its ever-changing emotional landscape and the politics that come with one neighborhood. The manner in which it is written adds several distinct layers and packs a seriously harsh punch. Going into A Good Neighborhood, I never really expected to be hit with the many twists that occurred, but by the end of this novel I felt that hum of an ache at the back of my mind that comes only with an explosive final act.  

Find me on Instagram and/or Twitter.

You Might Also Like