INSTANT NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER * One of NPR's Best Books of 2020
"A provocative, absorbing read." — People
“A feast of a read... I finished A Good Neighborhood in a single sitting. Yes, it’s that good.” —Jodi Picoult, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Small Great Things and A Spark of Light
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.
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 love in a story that’s as provocative as it is powerful.
APPLE BOOKS REVIEW
Won’t you be my neighbor? That seemingly sweet question can be loaded and even toxic in this day and age, when race, class, religion, politics, and social attitudes can quickly flip the mood from “come on over” to “I’m going to destroy you.” In Therese Anne Fowler’s devourable saga, a Romeo-meets-Juliet romance between two teens (whose homes share a fence) slowly boils over into an ugly feud. Set in a leafy, gentrifying neighborhood in North Carolina, Fowler’s novel digs into uncomfortable truths as events hurtle toward tragedy. You almost want to look away, but Fowler keeps you reading—thanks in large part to her cast of finely drawn, deeply empathetic characters.
Fowler's fascinating follow-up to 2018's A Well-Behaved Woman chronicles the animosity generated between two families that leads to a tragedy in the suburban North Carolina neighborhood of Oak Knoll. Before local TV celebrity Brad Whitman, who is white, moves in, black single mother and ecologist Valerie Alston-Holt already has a poor opinion of him, as the house he is having built compromises an oak tree on Valerie's property. She grows even more wary upon learning that Brad's 17-year-old step-daughter Juniper took a purity vow. None of this deters Valerie's son, Xavier, a gifted musician and honors student who's headed to college in the fall, from pursuing her Juniper. A particularly ugly side of Brad emerges once Valerie sues him and his builder for damage to the tree: he doesn't understand her genuine concern for the ecosystem and makes a number of racist and misogynistic remarks to her. Brad sees an opportunity for revenge when he catches Juniper and Xavier in an intimate moment and later uses his connections to a prosecutor and spins the truth to trump up charges against Xavier. The plot is skillfully executed, delving into each character's complexities fully enough that their choices make perfect sense. This page-turner delivers a thoughtful exploration of prejudice, preconceived notions, and what it means to be innocent in the age of an opportunistic media. 350,000-copy announced first printing.
A Great Read
This was a little slow to get started, which is why I am giving it only 4 stars. Once it got going, WOW! I could not put it down.
Worst book I have ever read
Every social issue with no story
Loved the characters and the story.