Tag Archives: Literary Fiction

Review: A Good Neighborhood

A Good Neighborhood

A Good Neighborhood
By Therese Anne Fowler
St. Martin’s Press, 9781250237279, March 10, 2020, 320pp.

The Short of It:

Absolutely riveting.

The Rest of It:

I wanted an excellent book to kick-off 2020 and let me tell you, A Good Neighborhood was just that.

The story is set in a North Carolina neighborhood that has some history behind it but is in the midst of modernization. Old, beautiful homes being razed for sparkly new homes, and the types of residents you’d expect with such flashiness. Two homes, next to each other have their own stories. One, old and beloved by Valerie and her son Xavier. The other, flashy and new, owned by Brad, his wife Julia and their two children, Juniper and Lily.

One black family. One white. Although one has a little more money than the other due to some opportunistic business dealings, the other is well-educated and well-respected in the community. But when Valerie’s grand oak tree begins to show signs  of distress due to all the construction that her neighbor authorized, tensions rise and when Juniper, a white girl, falls in love with Xavier, the tension really ramps up.

This is a timely story of how one thing leads to another and how race can’t help but get in the way. The way the story is told is from an observer’s point of view, so we know early on that something horrible happens to one if these families and although we see hints here and there of how the story will play out, the ending still packs a punch. I finished this book late at night and I was so affected by the storytelling that I had to sit there for many minutes to compose myself.

This is a tragic story and will break your heart in so many ways but it’s so well done. It gives you much to think about. It would make an excellent book club read and I want everyone to read it.

I should note that the book comes out in March, so pre-order it now or request it from your library and once you read it, let me know because you will need to discuss it.

Source: Review copy provided by the publisher.
Disclosure: This post contains Indiebound affiliate links.

Review: Judas

Judas

Judas
By Amos Oz
Mariner Books, 9781328745491, November 2017, 320pp.

The Short of It:

Really made me think about religion in general. Was Judas a hero? In this book, Oz poses the question.

The Rest of It:

This was a book club pick. Going into it, I had few expectations because I really didn’t know much about it. I have to say, this was probably a good thing.

Jerusalem, 1959. Shmuel Ash, a biblical scholar, is adrift in his young life when he finds work as a caregiver for a brilliant but cantankerous old man named Gershom Wald. There is, however, a third, mysterious presence in his new home. Atalia Abravanel, the daughter of a deceased Zionist leader, a beautiful woman in her forties, entrances young Shmuel even as she keeps him at a distance. Piece by piece, the old Jerusalem stone house, haunted by tragic history and now home to the three misfits and their intricate relationship, reveals its secrets. ~ Indiebound

I found this book to be very good for discussion but not as enjoyable to read as I had hoped. The romantic element between two of the characters seemed a tad forced and not terribly realistic. I liked parts of the story. A young student, listening to stories and learning from an elder was appealing to me but Atalia was cold as ice. I never warmed to her.

The political elements were not excessive but provided enough background to give me a feel for the conflict of that region. As a discussion book, it was excellent. We had plenty to talk about. The possibility of Judas being a hero was something we had to wrap our brains around. Throughout history he has been recognized as a traitor. That brought up the question, what is a traitor and is being one always bad?

Interesting, huh? Well, that’s all I have. I will say that reading other books while reading this one was not possible so I’m glad this one is behind me but if your club needs a good discussion book, give this one a try.

Source: Borrowed
Disclosure: This post contains Indiebound affiliate links.