Skip to main content

A Good Neighborhood

Bookreporter.com Bets On...

A Good Neighborhood

March 2020

Therese Anne Fowler’s A GOOD NEIGHBORHOOD is a novel that I have been thinking about since I read a very early advance copy a year ago. Yes, you read that right, a year ago. I reread it this week and again realized how powerful it is. It’s set in a quiet suburban town in North Carolina, where neighbors are neighborly and life is peaceful…until it’s not. On one of these quiet blocks, a house is razed, and in its place a larger-than-usual house is built, along with a swimming pool. Suddenly the balance of the neighborhood shifts as the new neighbor is someone who has a lofty view of his life compared to others.

Yes, Brad Whitman has an elevated sense of self. He dotes on his wife, stepdaughter and daughter, providing them with his view of “a good life” --- one that they live on his terms and rules. Next door lives Valerie Alston-Holt, a young widow with a biracial son, Xavier. She, too, is giving her son his best life, but with a very different value system from Brad. When they first meet, it’s assumed that Xavier is the hired help. And that will give readers a sense of how things are going to implode for these two families.

Their opening clash is about a tree --- a huge oak tree that borders their properties. It’s been damaged after the construction harmed the root structure, and suddenly it’s losing its leaves and signs of life. Valerie is devastated. Brad sees it as not a big deal. What does the tree matter? Ends up, a lot. Valerie sues Brad and his builder over it. And things get mighty unpleasant quickly.

But there is more trouble afoot. Juniper, who is Brad’s stepdaughter, and Xavier are sneaking around spending time together. Brad, who is controlling, finds them together and decides to completely upend Xavier’s world. And so he does.

A GOOD NEIGHBORHOOD is a book about race, power, class, and just what the American Dream is --- and who owns it. Once you finish it, you will want to talk about it. Book groups, take note.

A Good Neighborhood
by Therese Anne Fowler

  • Publication Date: March 10, 2020
  • Genres: Fiction
  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Press
  • ISBN-10: 1250237270
  • ISBN-13: 9781250237279