A Good Neighborhood

A Good Neighborhood

Book - 2020 | First edition
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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, whos headed to college in the fall. All is well until the Whitmansa family with new money and a secretly troubled teenage daughterraze the house and trees next door to build themselves a showplace." -- Dust jacket.
Publisher: New York : St. Martin's Press, 2020
Edition: First edition
Branch Call Number: FICTION FOW
Characteristics: viii, 311 pages ; 25 cm
ISBN: 9781250237279
1250237270

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bookyb
Apr 20, 2020

First off, this book should come with a content warning for sexual abuse. Secondly, save your time and money. This is a book that tries to tackle way too many issues in one book and doesn't handle any of them well. The racism tropes are so cliche, non-white characters are flat and underdeveloped, and the stereotyping is thick. Perhaps this is the intent, to be a "wake-up," but if so, it is very 101. And there is enough maddening content otherwise that it does not make it worthwhile. The only upside is that it is a fast-paced read. Honestly, I wish I knew what the author was thinking writing this and how it got past the editing team.

p
PANNELLSTEPHANI
Apr 14, 2020

Warning this book contains offensive/racist language

b
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.

b
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.

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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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