A Good Neighborhood: A Novel

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St. Martin's Publishing Group, Mar 10, 2020 - Fiction - 320 pages


"A provocative, absorbing read."

“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.


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A Good Neighborhood centers around an established neighborhood in North Carolina and the drama that starts when a new family moves in. It is a classic story about a neighborhood, with hard truths about racism, classism, and the secrets that people hide behind closed doors. It’s full of gorgeous prose and relatable characters.
It follows the residents of Oak Knoll, a beautiful middle-class neighborhood in North Carolina. Oak Knoll is, for all intents and purposes, the perfect place to live, with a close-knit community of neighbors and little drama. That is until Brad Whitman and his family move in. Whitman, a locally famous HVAC salesman, tears down the house behind the Alston-Holts to build a large mansion. By doing so he sets in place a series of events that change the neighborhood of Oak Knoll forever.
I was spellbound by the intricate stories in this book. The undercurrent of the book is the landscape of the neighborhood, in particular, an eighty-year-old oak tree standing in the back of Valerie Alston-Hosts property. When the Whitman family builds their massive home, it disrupts the root structure and slowly poisons the beautiful oak tree, much in the same way the neighborhood is being poisoned. It takes on the heavy topics of racism, purity, gentrification, and sexual assault and made me feel angry, hopeful, melancholy, and frustrated.
If you’re looking for a quick read with some light drama, this book is not for you. But if you’re interested in a book with some depth that really makes you think about some heavier topics, pick up A Good Neighborhood.
Thank you to St. Martin’s Press for the review copy!

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About the author (2020)

THERESE ANNE FOWLER is the author of the New York Times bestselling novel Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald and A Well-Behaved Woman. Raised in the Midwest, she moved to North Carolina in 1995. She holds a BA in sociology/cultural anthropology and an MFA in creative writing from North Carolina State University.

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