My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Time taken to read - 1 day
Pages - 279
Publisher - Headline Review
Source - Review book
Blurb from Goodreads
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 family with new money, ambition, and a secretly troubled teenaged daughter.
Thanks to his thriving local business, Brad Whitman is something of a celebrity around town, and he's made a small fortune on his customer service and charm, while his wife, Julia, escaped her trailer park upbringing for the security of marriage and homemaking. Their new house is more than she ever imagined for herself, and who wouldn't want to live in Oak Knoll? With little in common except a property line, these two very different 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.
Told from multiple points of view, 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 star-crossed love in a story that’s as provocative as it is powerful.
Valerie Alston Holt is living in a wee neighborhood in North Carolina with her bi racial son Xavier, he has the whole world ahead of him, a scholarship, fabulous music career and he is a healthy good looking boy. Valeria is a professor and very eco friendly, when her new neighbours move in, a while affluent family, the house built for them and a lot of trees lost to accommodate it Valerie isn't best pleased. When the tree in her yard, 80 odd years old starts dying as a result of the new home Valerie decides to take on Brad Whitman, local celebrity and her new neighbour. If that isn't enough, Mrs Whitman has just been to Valerie's for book night and to make friends and her oldest daughter Juniper and Xavier have just started to notice each other, talk about bad timing!
It is a busy wee story, we hear from the three main characters, each varying chapters and getting to know and see from their perspectives. Juniper is a bit of a grumpy problem teen, mocked at school for valuing her purity and having a brain. Xavier hasn't really found anyone he is interested in and he is out of here in six short months but there is something about Juniper....
The book has a few turns and goes into some pretty shocking topics, racism, power, abuse, wealth (and a mix of abuse of power/wealth), the depravity of some humans and the shocking way some people think. How easy it is to ruin/change a life with one decision, one action and the ripple effects that has. It is one of those books you aren't too sure where it is going to go and I was shocked at the depth of how some of it went. A modern day Romeo and Juliette type story but with so much more issues and themes that left me a bit shocked to be honest. 4.5/5 for me this time, first time reading this author I will absolutely be looking into her other books!