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A Good Neighborhood

3.83  ·  Rating details ·  49,759 ratings  ·  7,322 reviews
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 fam ...more
Hardcover, 311 pages
Published March 10th 2020 by St. Martin's Press
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Jerri Dorminy This is not young adult fiction. It has a lot if foreshadowing and plenty starts to happen as the story continues. Quite timely in light of recent nat…moreThis is not young adult fiction. It has a lot if foreshadowing and plenty starts to happen as the story continues. Quite timely in light of recent national events.(less)
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Abbie If you stopped here and didn't finish the book, you're in a better position than I am. It ended horribly and I regret the time I spent on this book. T…moreIf you stopped here and didn't finish the book, you're in a better position than I am. It ended horribly and I regret the time I spent on this book. The epilogue didn't make it better for me, either.(less)

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Average rating 3.83  · 
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 ·  49,759 ratings  ·  7,322 reviews

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David Putnam
Oct 26, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Love this book. Solid five stars. Won it on the Goodreads Giveaway contest. I predict it will instantly be a New York Times bestseller. I don’t say this too often but it’s the kind of book that I tell friends to, drop what they’re doing, go out and buy it.
I’m a firm believer in the Fictive Dream, it’s what I need most in a book. To be dropped into a character driven story and live it with the character. If done correctly time stands still. When I come out of the fictive dream it seems like twent
Nilufer Ozmekik
Dec 16, 2019 rated it it was amazing
In the love literature Gods, what an incredible, tasteful gem I just read! This is epic! This is masterpiece! This is surprising! I loved everything about it and I’m sure it’s gonna be most anticipated and highly recommended fictions of 2020!

Please stop singing Mr. Roger’s epic song: “It is a beautiful day in the neighborhood, would you be my, could you be my? Won't you be my neighbor?” because this book is nothing about good neighboring. It is about tangled, complex situations and their eventu
Emily May
Mar 17, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: botm, 2020, contemporary
2 1/2 stars.
Reading this was a bit like reading two separate books, in which the first two thirds was Liane Moriarty at her slowest, and the final third was a constant stream of heart-pounding, horrible drama that made me so unbelievably angry (not, I should say, in a bad way).

This was the only book that sounded interesting for March Book of the Month, which is why I picked it. It takes on several delicate subjects - race, racism, class and womanhood - all in a middle/upper middle class North Ca
Brenda ~Traveling Sisters Book Reviews
1/2 Stars

Unpopular opinion ahead and over-sensitive thinker at work here. I am an outlier in this one I am sure.

Updated opinion from my original review that got a lot of comments about how realistic this one is.

The author is white writing the POV of two black characters and she tells us exactly how to feel about all the characters. The black characters lack depth to them with one character with the harmful trope of angry black woman whose conflict with a neighbour is over a tree. More time was
Angela M (On a little break)
In the beginning we’re warned that a tragedy has occurred and I was hooked already wondering. As the story progresses, it’s intense to say the very least and I became so emotionally involved with these characters and was heartbroken already before the ending, trying to imagine which one would be impacted by the tragedy . Suffice it to say, they all were .

The third person “we” narrator, seemingly removed but yet all knowing about the neighborhood, the characters, gives the feeling that they are p
Feb 15, 2020 rated it it was ok
Shelves: fiction, arc
In a seemingly close-knit neighborhood in North Carolina, a widowed ecology professor, Valerie, is raising her biracial son, Xavier, in the house she bought years ago with her husband—before his sudden death devastated their family and left Xavier without his father. Valerie has considered moving somewhere less “southern,” somewhere where the color of her and her son’s skin doesn’t make them an anomaly. But she can’t leave a house that holds so many memories, especially when Xavier is doing so w ...more
Jan 21, 2020 rated it it was amazing
My reviews can also be seen at: https://deesradreadsandreviews.wordpr...

A compelling and timely read!

This story involves two families whose lives will intertwine in ways they would never have imagined.

“We begin our story here, in the minutes before the small event that will change everything.”

The Whitman's have just built an upscale new house in the neighborhood of Oak Knoll.

Seventeen-year-old, Juniper Whitman seems to have it all. But appearances can be deceiving. Juniper's mother, Julia met
Chelsea Amber
Mar 12, 2020 rated it did not like it
A book by a white person, for white people!

Full of spoilers, so don't read further unless you're looking for a justification as to why you shouldn't get this book.

Where on earth do I begin?

In a nutshell, this book is trauma porn of the black experience, managing to hit upon SEVERAL things black (and/or biracial (namely, half black)) people may deal with in their lifetimes, all over a swift 300+ pages. Fowler, who couldn't resist pointing out any time a character, even those of little importance,
5 Breathless, Stunning Stars.

Actions. Circumstances. Ramifications. My Oh My! What a tangled Web You Weave!

When you think of a suburban community, you think barbecues and book clubs. That’s exactly how life was in the quiet suburb of Oak Knoll. Life was positively idyllic, but of course, good neighbors sure are hard to find!

Valerie Alston-Holt loves raising her teenaged son Xavier in the quiet neighborhood of Oak Knoll and both consider themselves lucky, until the drilling and demolition start
Meredith (Slowly Catching Up)
Mar 08, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: netgalley
“What has more meaning to humankind than words? Without a call to action, change rarely occurs.”

A tragedy strikes a “Good Neighborhood.” This is where good families and good people live. But under the veneer of perfection, exists deep-seated racism, gender bias, class separation, and a sexual predator. Families are ripped apart based on choices made stemming from greed, desperation, “doing the right thing,” and love.

Fowler explores themes of racial and class divisions through the character
Elyse Walters
$1.99 kindle download today. I’d buy it myself if I didn’t already own 📕🤗

5 Phenomenal Affecting Stars!!!!
Emotions and thoughts spin around and around in my head!!!
They will for a LONG TIME!
Huge Kudos to the author!!! She is insanely talented!!!
Unbelievable how engaging - thought provoking - urgent - and - heartbreaking- this story is!!!

Full Review still to come!


“Most of us hide what troubles and confuses us, displaying instead t
Jan 14, 2020 rated it it was amazing
So what makes A Good Neighborhood? Oak Knoll was originally made up of post WWII ranch houses. But lately, those older houses were being torn down and McMansions built in their place. It’s a phenomenon being seen more and more often in closer in, older neighborhoods. Valerie Alston-Holt lives in one of the older houses. She’s a widow, raising her teenage son. A professor of forestry and ecology, she is more than disturbed by the new house going in next to her, especially as the construction impa ...more
Dorie  - Cats&Books :)
Oct 14, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: edelweiss, literature

My feelings are all over the place on this one. I think it is extremely well written, the use of the third person omnipotent point of view is always an interesting view. I think it’s hard to use it successfully which this book did. The premise, though not a new one, is good and relatable. A story of a neighborhood where everyone knew each other, in an older suburb where the residents are now having to “make way” for the Brad Whitmans of the world.

Valerie Alston-Holt is a wido
This book hurt my heart to read it. You see a train wreck coming and you can do nothing to stop it. On top of that, you have this all knowing, mysterious "we" narrators, who know things about everybody that they couldn't possibly know. At times, I wanted to shut them up because I felt that this way of narrating kept a barrier between me and the characters but, on the other hand, I welcomed that barrier because I didn't want to care about the characters anyway. 

White Brad, and his family, move in
Dec 31, 2021 rated it liked it
okay… this story was not what i was expecting. and not in a good way.

what i wanted was some neighbourhood drama about a tree. you know, a light-hearted story about two teens who like each other but their parents are fighting over a tree. entertaining, but also provides an opportunity to provide commentary on communities, families, etc.

and i thought that was what i was going to get until about the halfway mark. it then turns into a really depressing, rage-inducing conflict of race, class, and s
Larry H
Apr 16, 2020 rated it it was amazing
After reading Therese Anne Fowler's new novel, A Good Neighborhood , all I can say, in the words of Keanu Reeves in many of his early movies is, “whoa.”

I don’t belong to a book club, but I wish I did after reading this book. It made me sad, it made me angry, it made me think about our world today, and it made me wonder whether or not certain characters’ actions were justified.

In the comfortable North Carolina suburb of Oak Hill, Valerie and her biracial son Xavier have lived since he was a ba
Diane S ☔
Dec 18, 2019 rated it it was ok
Shelves: lor-2019
2.5 A readers we all have certain subjects that we try to avoid, as ell as different likes or dislikes in the way a book is written. That was the case, for me, here. I don't like when a book has a narrator, an unknown entity that comments from the void, different opinions and explanations. It keeps me from fully engaging with the story itself.

The story itself was a good one, somewhat predictable, not in scope, but I pretty much knew where it was going before its arrival. Until the end, that I d
Sep 04, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I won this ARC in a GoodReads Giveaway - big thanks to the publisher, author and GoodReads fo this opportunity! I obsessively read this book all night until I was finished - and devastated by the heartbreaking ending. This heartbreaking story is timely and and all too plausible and the only thing that kept me going was a great story and poignant, heartbreaking protagonists that kept me invested till the bitter end.

I loved Therese Anne Fowler's historical novel Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald so
Oh. My. Gosh. - NO!

A GOOD NEIGHBORHOOD begins with "An upscale new house in a simple old neighborhood." Oak Knoll is a desirable area to live in North Carolina. A mixed race color-blind progressive area....or so we're told.

The storyline has an interesting narration with just a bit of commentary by the neighbors along the way that does not detract, but added to the telling....from my perspective.

It's a Sunday afternoon in May. The new self-made privileged millionaire, wife and two daughters ha

Aug 24, 2019 rated it really liked it
To write about the black experience as a white woman is a brave thing to do and being a white woman, myself, I don’t know if Fowler nailed it or not. In addition to racial profiling, class, white privilege, power, sexual abuse, and Christian conservatism this book tackles an ecological issue. All of these are timely topics and a lot to pack into one novel. Initially, the pacing is a bit slow but necessary to fully develop the characters whom I felt like I knew rather well. I liked the narration ...more

"Trees are life. Not just my life, … but life, period."

As this story begins, set in a neighborhood populated by modest homes built when the boys who fought in World War II returned home to a housing boon in the rapidly growing suburban developments. A neighborhood in North Carolina, these many years later, by now established. That is, until a new family, the Whitmans, build a new, far more upscale, sprawling house next door to Valerie Alston-Holt. Valerie is a black female professor of fores
Dec 21, 2019 rated it really liked it
This story is narrated by the neighbors of the two households involved in this story. These two households backyards meet and one family is a well to do white family in an extravagant new build and the other is a black woman and her biracial son in an older modest ranch. Each home contains a teenager that eventually have a relationship with each other.
We are told this on the very first page — “Later this summer when the funeral takes place, the media will speculate boldly on who's to blame."
Sep 27, 2020 rated it it was ok
picked this up thinking it would be a “suburban family drama” type story, and i guess you could consider it that??? more so, this was a book about racism written by a white person, for white people. characters were caricatures and stereotypes, except for Valerie and Juniper, but only at moments. giving it 2 stars instead of 1 because the last third of the book SICKENED me so at least Fowler’s emotional manipulation worked.
Mar 25, 2020 rated it really liked it
3.5 rounded up to 4 Stars

I had heard a lot of bugaboo about this book and its provocative themes, so of course I had to check it out. My advice to those considering reading this is if you want to be uplifted at all, it's absolutely not happening with this book.

This is a story about an upwardly mobile family that moved into the exclusive Oak Knoll neighborhood in North Carolina. Brad Whitman was now part of the nouveau riche, having created a thriving business. He was easily recognizable because
Aug 26, 2019 rated it liked it
Here I am once again to be a killjoy amongst all of the 4 and 5 star reviews ....

I want to start off by saying that I love a book that isn't afraid to tackle tough, hot button issues straight on, and this book attempts to do so, and for that attempt, I give Fowler props; however, the issues for me started right off the bat. It took way too long to get to the "heart" of the premise. I was at Chapter 19 (and they weren't small chapters) and NOTHING substantive had taken place yet! There was just w
Lindsay - Traveling Sisters Book Reviews
2.5 stars. A neighbourhood filled with secrets, lies and scandal. Not at all what I was expecting....

I was excited to read this as I had seen nothing but raving reviews. I was ready for a powerful, emotional, unforgettable story. Perhaps that high expectation is what ruined this for me? Not sure. I just couldn’t seem to get fully immersed in this storyline. From start to finish, I kept thinking “what am I missing?” Although the writing was good, the plot felt long and drawn out. The characters a
Jan 28, 2020 rated it really liked it
Excerpt: “An upscale new house in a simple old neighborhood. A girl on a chaise beside a swimming pool, who wants to be left alone. We begin our story here, in the minutes before the small event that will change everything......

For the record, we never wanted to take sides.”

So begins this cautionary tale, as told by our omniscient narrator(s), which I assumed was one or more of the other Oak Knoll neighbor(s).

The story finds Valerie Alston-Holt at odds with her new neighbors, Brad and Julia Whi
Jennifer ~ TarHeelReader
Dec 08, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I really love this author. I’m two for two with her books. A Good Neighborhood is a thoughtful and timely representation of neighbors with different beliefs. Full review will come closer to pub date in February 2020.

I received a gifted copy from the publisher.
Jan 08, 2020 rated it really liked it
4 stars! ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Wow. Just wow.

This book certainly covers a multitude of subjects! Racism, stereotypes, white privilege, sexual abuse and even ecology.

A Good Neighborhood is not a fast paced read. When a well-to-do white family with two daughters (one is a 17 year old) moves in next door to a single, black mother raising her teenage biracial son, things start off well enough. That is, until the teenagers fall in love. What originally starts out as a disagreement over a tree between the two neig
Katie B
This was my first time reading a book by the author, and I have to say, I'm impressed. It's the type of story in which you keep thinking about the characters long after you are done reading. Would make an excellent book club selection!

Valerie Alston-Holt is a professor of forestry and ecology so obviously nature is pretty darn important to her. She's been a single mother for years, raising her biracial teenage son and Xavier is quite the talented young man. The Whitmans have just moved to the Oa
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