the next good book

The Good Neighbor

By Therese Anne Fowler


311 pages

What’s it about? Oak Knoll is a middle class, tight-knit neighborhood in a North Carolina university town.  When a new family decides to tear down an existing home and build a McMansion directly behind Valerie Alston-Holt’s home she is deeply troubled.  She is offended by the vulgar display of wealth, the lack of care for the environment, and she is especially offended by her new backyard view.  When her favorite Oak tree begins to die due to root stress she decides to stand up for what she believes in and sue the new neighbors for damages.  Her son Xavier is not happy as he has made a connection with Juniper (the daughter of the new neighbors).  In the end will anybody be happy? What did it make me think about? The narrator of this novel seems to be the collective voice of the neighborhood.  I found this off-putting and interesting at the same time.  I also could not help but think how easy it is to come off as smug if you are writing a story with a strong point of view. Should I read it? This was easy to read but it was very heavy handed in it’s message.  To me it seemed like every person in the novel was a caricature.  From the environmentalist professor to the crass businessman- every character played their part.   Because each character was so extreme it was hard to think of this book as anything other than a morals lesson.  I prefer to think through a story and find the meaning- not to be force fed.  This one just wasn’t for me. Quote- “We’ll say no one can be known by what’s visible.  We’ll say most of us hide what troubles and confuses us, displaying instead the facets we hope others will approve of, the parts we hope others will like.”

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