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A Good Neighborhood by Therese Anne Fowler
Contemporary fiction

A Good Neighborhood

by Therese Anne Fowler

Quick take

A teenage romance throws two families into chaos, striking tensions between race and class in a quaint suburban town.

Good to know

  • Illustrated icon, Icon_HeavyRead

    Heavy read

  • Illustrated icon, Icon_SocialIssues

    Social issues

  • Illustrated icon, Icon_GraphicViolence

    Graphic violence

  • Illustrated icon, Icon_SuburbanDrama

    Suburban drama

Illustrated icon, Icon_Challenging_Indicator

FYI

This book contains violence and sexual content that some readers may find upsetting.

Why I love it

Jordan Moblo
@jordys.book.club

As someone who happens to read a lot, the sign of a good book for me is whether I can recall the details of where I was when I read it. I distinctly remember sitting in my office devouring Miracle Creek cover to cover; the hotel room I holed myself up in while burning through Little Fires Everywhere; and the coffee shop where I was captivated by Ask Again, Yes. And in the case of A Good Neighborhood (which, by the way, is a must-read if you enjoyed any of the above-mentioned books), it’s not where I was but where I wasn’t: I may have faked an illness to avoid a group dinner so that I could instead finish this powerful and timely novel.

The story revolves around two families: Valerie Alston-Holt, a Black ecology professor who lives a quiet life with her biracial teenage son Xavier; and the Whitman family, the wealthy new neighbors who have moved in next door. The families come to blows over something seemingly minor (a tree that straddles both their properties). But what begins as a trivial argument soon sets off a series of events that irrevocably changes the lives of everyone involved.

A Good Neighborhood is incredibly well-written, thoughtful, and relevant. Fowler deftly explores race, class, power, and love in new and thought-provoking ways. If you’re like me, you might predict where the plot is headed early on, but knowing what’s to come only ratchets up the drama. Tensions arise, the conflict slowly spirals out of control, and in the end, we’re left with an infuriating and heartbreaking conclusion that will stick with you long after you’ve finished.

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Synopsis

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.

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Preview

Get an early look from the first pages of A Good Neighborhood.

Member thoughts

All (11376)
All (11376)
Love (4875)
Like (5080)
Dislike (1421)
11588 ratings
  • 42% Love
  • 44% Like
  • 12% Dislike
  • Boston, MA

    “The next...” begins most reviews that compare a new book to a past book I loved & voila! I’m reading it. I vow to never call AGN “The Next” anything because it deserves higher respect. That damn good

  • West Hollywood, CA

    A powerful read. It’s a slow build but incredibly tense. You’re constantly steeped in a sense of dread fearing that while you don’t know exactly what’s going to happen, the results will be expected.

  • Madison, WI

    I enjoyed this book. It was a slow build and wasn’t sure how I was going to feel about it but I never give up on a story, and I’m glad I didn’t. A powerful storyline with an even more powerful ending.

  • Westminster, CO

    I loved this book for so many reasons. It wove a tale of social, racial and economic differences. Extreme intolerance by adults yet tolerance and finding love by the teenagers of these parents. 4/5 ⭐️

  • Boston, MA

    Amid reading, I told my partner that if I didnt get a happy end after all the sadness I’d toss the book out the window—needless to say didnt get the ending I asked for but it was what the story needed

  • Mount Horeb, WI

    When I started this book I did not expect to like it as much as I did. The narration from the perspective of the collaborative “we” was so unique, while the plot was heart wrenching, and engrossing.

  • Abbottstown, PA

    It was an amazing read. There were twists and turns that I didn’t see coming. I was constantly turning pages and couldn’t wait to see how the story unfolded. The characters were dynamic and engaging.

  • Hollywood, MD

    I really ???? this book! I wish it didnt end the way it did just BC its not what i wanted to happen???? But im glad too it wasnt a fairytale ending BC thats not how it works in real life. It was realistic

  • Yorba Linda, CA

    What a story! My goodness. A slow build, like BOTM has said. It doesn’t start to pick up until closer to 100 pages in. But, once it does, it is a ‘can’t put down for the life of me’ type of read.

  • Indianapolis, IN

    A page turner! The perspective of the unnamed neighbors was refreshing. I didn’t always agree with the characters’ choices, but they were so human I coult relate on several levels. Highly recommend!

  • Weatherford, TX

    Nobody ever knows what’s going on in their neighbor’s house or what teenagers are up to. I loved this book and kept trying to guess what was going to happen to the characters but didn’t come close.

  • Modesto, CA

    Prepare for a rollercoaster—you become enamored with the characters and their passions, and all the while know it will have it’s ups and downs. A love/tragic story that will leave you feeling deeply.

  • Nashville, TN

    Fowler creates a character who’s easy to hate, another who’s easy to love, and another who breaks your heart. This story focuses on the issues with racism and the justice system in a beautiful way!

  • Pitman, NJ

    It took a bit to pick up the pace, and it was a little jumpy back and forth at first BUT once i got used to that aspect of it, i couldn’t put it down! I think i finished in about a week! Def worth it!

  • Cedar, MI

    I love a book that provokes so much emotion. I’ve read some reviews of some hating the end. It should make you angry. I believe that is the point. Slow build but couldn’t turn the pages fast enough.

  • Austin, TX

    A slow burning drama with a gut-wrenching end. Even when you know whats coming you can’t turn away. Touching on timely issues, a must-read for fans of slow paced dramas that tackle socio-racial topics

  • Whitehall, PA

    Honestly wasnt sure what this book was gonna be like. I loved how you knew there’d be a tragedy in this book yet when it happens it’s still a shock that strikes an all too familiar cord with society

  • Milton, NY

    Powerful read. Sheds light on the sad realities of today’s world through a story that includes teenage love and parental intolerance. Slow build but the story line keeps you intrigued. Unexpected end.

  • Portsmouth, VA

    I could not put this book down! What is a good neighbor? With all that is going on in the world, this book encourages you to speak to get to know somone before you judge or assume. It’s worth reading.

  • Prescott , AZ

    Wow. This was so, so amazing. One of those books you get and think “I’ll get to it eventually,” but then once you do you could kick yourself for not reading it sooner. So relevant and beautiful!!

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