Safe from the Neighbors
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Safe from the Neighbors

3.72 of 5 stars 3.72  ·  rating details  ·  202 ratings  ·  49 reviews
In a small town in the Mississippi Delta, Luke May teaches local history to students too young to remember the turmoil of the civil rights era. Luke himself was just a child in 1962 when James Meredith’s enrollment at Ole Miss provoked a bloody new battle in the old Civil War. But when a long-lost friend suddenly returns to town, bringing with her a reminder of the act of...more
Paperback, 272 pages
Published February 8th 2011 by Vintage (first published January 1st 2010)
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Carol
Most of my GR Friends gave Steve Yarbrough's Safe From the Neighbors 4 stars. Why not 5? 4 or 5, 5 or 4. Perhaps this has a bit to do with the text that goes along with the ratings. 4 = I really liked it 5 it was amazing. If I give this book 5 stars does that mean nothing else can touch it? Once again I'm conflicted by the use of stars but for me Mr. Yarbrough (I'm a new fan) deserves my 5.

I heard Steve Yarbrough speak at Booktopia Vermont 2013. At first he reminded more or a rock musician and i...more
Chris
When books have reviews by acclaimed authors like Richard Russo, John Grisham, Jill McCorkle, and Tom Perrotta, I always begin with a wary and careful eye. Is it really going to be that good? In this case, a resounding YES. Yarbrough seems to be an undiscovered gem in our group of US southern writers. Perhaps not, but I had never heard of him before.

This book has a well developed story, almost mystery, and carefully drawn characters. And the dialogue is amazing. I won't say anything else, disco...more
Jana
My first book by Steve Yarbrough and he is fabulous! Interesting subject about which, sadly, I am learning how much I do not know: Civil rights. Specifically an incident that occurred in 1962 on the campus at Oxford, Mississippi. I never knew about the drama that erupted there over a boy trying to enroll in college. The story goes back & forth from current to the 1960s and includes racial violence as well as family drama/marriages in crisis. All told from the point of view of Luke May, a hig...more
Tony
Yarbrough, Steve. SAFE FROM THE NEIGHBORS. (2010). *****. Yarbrough can really write. I’ve been reading his books for years now and each one gets better and better. In this novel he tells the story of Luke May, a high school history teacher at his old high school in Loring, Mississippi. As a young man growing up, he was mentored by Loring’s newspaper publisher, a survivor of the Civil Rights movement of the 1960s. He knew first hand about those events, and passed them on to Luke. Luke, in turn,...more
Vanessa
This is a very character driven novel with a minimal plot, which definitely breaks the usual mold of what I typically read and enjoy.

But this book has some important things to say on relationships, racism, family history, attitudes in the south and loyalty. Specifically on the topic of racism, there are some really ignorant, bigoted people out there which is unfortunate... but does that mean their entire lives are loathsome? That they aren't multi-dimensional human beings, capable of compassion...more
John Pappas
Yarbrough's novel depicts the intersection of public and private histories - the things we struggle to forget and can't help but remember from our personal and collective past - in his story of a history teacher who attempts to excavate his own troubled family's involvement in the brutal events of the civil rights era in Mississippi while succumbing to the siren-song of childhood love and nostalgia. An excellent novel.
Lisa
I want to read/listen to more from Steve Yarbrough. Thank you BOTNS for introducing me to a new author. I look forward to meeting Steve in April 2013 at Booktopia Vermont. Having lived there, I love stories set in Mississippi. Now to listen Prisoners of War Prisoners of War by Steve Yarbrough
Sherri
Sadly I am on a bad book streak. I hated the main character in this book. He was a whining jerk. The story seemed like it had some mystery - a teacher tries to unravel a murder in the 1960s and a family that his dad doesn't want to talk about. The mystery was slowly revealed, but it was not a mystery that was very interesting. Just really hated this book - wish that I had stopped wasting my time reading it. But I am an optimist and kept hoping it would get better.
nancy
So happy I've been introduced to Steve Yarbrough. His characters and plot are deep and thought provoking...and the writing is sublime.
I listened to this and the reader, T. Ryder Smith, totally inhabited the narrator and all of the other characters (male and female) that he portrayed.
This book was a pleasure and I'm so anxious to meet the author at Booktopia Vermont.
Linda
I liked this book, but what kept me from giving it a higher rating was that it just sort of ended abruptly. I was enjoying the story and the main characters, and then it just sort of ended. It was well written but left me with questions.
Christine
Really good until the end. The vague ending was a disappointment.
Sherry Howland
Luke May is a likable high school history teacher leading an unremarkable life in Loring, Mississippi, a small town with a dubious history. Luke's marriage is at a dead end and his parents' health is deteriorating, but his own love of local history and his realistic compassion and understanding for the townspeople keep him going. Into this inertia steps Maggie Sorrentino, a glamorous French teacher with a mysterious and tragic past, which Luke eventually learns is closely tied to his own family'...more
Kathryn
Looking over my Goodreads reviews the other day I realized I was a little too generous with my stars. I will go ahead and put it out there that I am not a person who forces herself to slog through a book she hates. So anything that makes it to a status of "Read" is good enough for me to finish, but that's not the same thing as really thinking it's a good book. I read Yarbrough's new book in one night--which I guess says something. But it's probably the least favorite of his that I've read, and t...more
Kat
This book has all the ingredients to make it great: old crime, lots of history, racial tensions, really good writing. Except it disintegrates about 2/3 of the way in. I loved it at the beginning and even thought I found a new favourite author, but then the problems started. (spoiler) The narrator's affair is somehow sad, weird (he had a crush on her mother as a child) and shabby, which perhaps is what the author intended, but it takes the focus away from the mystery and makes the book unattracti...more
Cynthia
This is probably the best book I have read in a long time. It feels so real; like it's a non-fiction memoir.* I love the way Mr. Yarbrough has woven seemingly unrelated vignettes from history, family stories, and childhood of the character into the narrative -- which then become so obviously essential to the tale he is telling!

As soon as I read the last word, I wanted to right back to the beginning and read it again because I *KNOW* I missed a lot. And I *KNOW* all those odd little elements will...more
Michelle
This was not my cup of tea. It wasn't the most horrible book I've ever read, but it wasn't the most enjoyable. I like a book that flows, this was so disjointed that it took away from the story. I found the characters to be asinine and shallow. Adultery played a big part in this book which I found to be sorta out of place a little.
Catherine Woodman
I loved this boo--and I finally finished it! I had it out of the library and then had to return it because someone had a hold on it that was not me. It is a multi-layered story, about a man who gets caught up in a story from the past--and with it he gets equally wrapped up in a woman from the past, and the two stories are told together. THe old story, of a man getting involved with an affair and sort of moving from one thing to another, without really taking a moment to look at the whole picture...more
Amy Rhodes
My second Yarbrough; again very impressed. He's an understated writer and an old-fashioned story-teller but his characters are fresh and believable. This one blends some civil rights history into an age-old novel of marriage; the father of the narrator is particularly terrific.
Debbie
I read this in one day, pressured by the deadline od discussing it at the library tomorrow. Due to many twists and turns, it will be helpful that its all fresh in my mind. I was disappointed because I thought the bok wqas going to be about race relations in the South which I am keen to discuss since the movie the HElp that I saw recently was powerful ad great to discuss. Instead this is a story bout betrayal. what the author does that is interesting is to fill in the details of stories in a skew...more
Judi
Yes, the ending was abrupt and a bit muddled - and, yes, the affair was gratuitous and predictable. Nonetheless, Yarbrough captures a feeling of 1960s Mississippi sharecroppers that I've not seen among other novelists. I found this a compelling and complex story.
Sam Irwin
I liked it better than most of the books I've given three stars. It's more of a 3.89 book. Sometimes I get tired of the South but this one a had a nice ending that could have gone either way. I recommend it.
Wanda
While the setting is current, the backdrop is James Meredith’s enrollment at Ole Miss. Yarbrough shows how difficult the civil rights era was for small towns in Mississippi and the long lasting effects of events that occurred during that time.

The characters of "Safe from the Neighbors" are ordinary people. In fact, they are almost boring. The story is told from the point of view of Luke May, a high school teacher. It returns to a murder that occurred the night before Meredith's enrollment in Ol...more
Barb
Events from the past are still influencing and confusing the present in this book about a man trying to understand what led up to the murder of a neighbor decades earlier, a quest sparked by the return of her daughter to the area and this man's life. The violence surrounding the civil rights struggles in Mississippi and the shame that evokes also play a role here. As he begins to uncover the facts, his own recollections and memories, character and feelings are challenged and altered. The questio...more
Gypsy Lady
Page 85
Nothing creates obstinacy like being forced to maintain an indefensible position. Just look a the career of Robert E. Lee.

Page 87
He eats the same thing every day, and so does everybody else who lives on a farm in the Delta in 1962. We don't experiment with chocolate-chip pancakes, and Pop-Tarts won't be invented until the following year. Granola bars do exist, just not in Mississippi.

Page 111
... watching the Weather Channel like a suspense movie.
Julie
Very good -makes you think about choices and why we make choices that are obviously bad for us. The story w/in the stroy about the two boys attempting to long jump the creek was very thought provoking - I keep thinking about it. Also learned some history about the integration of Ole Miss. May even read again.
Candida Pugh
Yarborough's a bit hung up on cheating husbands and distancing wives but he can spin a story and work in any number of complications. The central mystery of this novel, however, never quite achieves resolution and I felt somewhat dissatisfied as I closed the book. Well. OK. As I turned off my Kindle.
Lynn Shurden
Had purchased this book several months ago and have just gotten around to reading it. I thoroughly enjoyed it, the story, and of course the area. I am curious as to why the author did not use the real names of the restaurants of Doe's and Lillo's. Just interesting to me! But still enjoyed it immensely.
Petula Darling
Wait....what? I just finished the book, yet I have no idea what the resolution to the "mystery" was.

If you like unanswered questions and depressing stories about self-centered jerks behaving like...well...jerks, then this is the book for you. Otherwise, I'd recommend giving it a pass.
Elizabeth A
I like how the author weaves a story set in present day Mississippi, and the flash point days of 1962 during the integration of Ole Miss. The novel explores history - personal, town, state and national - and the consequences of actions both great and small.
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Born in Indianola, Mississippi, he received his B.A. and M.A. in English from the University of Mississippi and his M.F.A. in Creative Writing from the University of Arkansas. Writing largely within the Southern tradition, he draws his themes and characters from Southern history and mores in ways that have been compared to Flannery O'Connor, William Faulkner, and Willie Morris.

Yarbrough's major wo...more
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“It's a lot easier to say when something ended rather than when it began. Most of us can recognize the end from a mile away, but the beginning always slips up on us, lulling us into thinking what we're living through is yet another moment, in yet another day.” 36 likes
“Just look what happens to poets," I used to tell my honors class on the first day of school. "Half the time they go mad. And you know why I think that happens? Too much truth distilled to its essence, all surrounding evidence ignored or discarded. And I'm not faulting them for that.” 2 likes
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