A Good Neighborhood

A Good Neighborhood

A Novel

Book - 2020
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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? But 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 in multiple points of view, A Good Neighbourhood asks big questions about life in America today – what does it mean to be a good neighbour? 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.
Publisher: Thorndike, Maine : Center Point Large Print, 2020
Edition: Large print edition
Copyright Date: ©2020
ISBN: 9781432872601
1432872605
Characteristics: 513 pages (large print) ; 22 cm

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brangwinn
Mar 29, 2020

Again, the question of whether a white person can write a book with the perspective of a minority. This falls short. Yes, she quotes Zadie Smith in the foreword, but the story doesn’t follow through. Perhaps before the uproar over this issue earlier in AMERICAN DIRT, I might have enjoyed this book more. The story is okay, but the characters lack depth. After reading the book, I never felt I really wanted to live in this good neighborhood. Xavier is too much of a goody-goody bi-racial boy being raised by a single mom. Juniper, his neighbor who had a purity ceremony with her father in a church ceremony at age 14, is flat. I felt I was reading a story filled with clichés about various people.

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booknrrd
Mar 12, 2020

Set in a middle class neighborhood in the South, A Good Neighborhood is about the collision of two families, one white and one mixed race.

I find this to be a pretty compelling read, and I thought the way it presented the subject matter and the media's handling of what happens fairly well. However, to me it lacks the nuance and complexity needed to make it great. The characters are basically either all good or all bad. I don't want to say too much more, but to me at least one of the characters approached caricature. So mixed feelings. I enjoyed it as I was reading it, but had niggling doubts that have grown since I finished it.

w
workerbee
Mar 10, 2020

Point of view is distinctly different in Fowler's A Good Neighborhood. The story is told in the first person plural, using the pronoun "we." Who that "we" represents is never made clear, but it seems to be the people of the title, the "good neighborhood" folks who live in Oak Knoll, a respectable middle class place, where people of different ages and races have lived together peacefully . Using this device puts a distance between the reader and the story and it made me a little uncomfortable.

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