A Good Neighborhood

St. Martin’s. Feb. 2020. 320p. ISBN 9781250237279. $27.99. F
In a departure from her best-selling historical fiction (A Well-Behaved Woman), Fowler writes a searing story of a neighborhood in present-day America, shining a spotlight on the effects of class and race as two families collide in a small, gentrifying community. Having made a fortune in the HVAC business, Brad Whitman, who is white, moves his family to a big, brand-new house in Oak Knoll, NC. He should be living the dream, but instead he’s soon clashing with his African American neighbor Valerie Alston-Holt when she files a lawsuit against him for damaging the giant oak tree in her yard during construction of his new house. Meanwhile, despite the animosity between their parents and the difference in their skin color, teenagers Juniper Whitman and Xavier Alston-Holt are drawn to each other. They steal moments together at the border of their backyards and begin a tentative romance. As their relationship deepens, however, Juniper’s family situation becomes even more complicated, threatening to jeopardize all of their futures.
VERDICT Fowler skillfully renders her characters and their experiences into an unforgettable, heartbreaking story. Great for book clubs and fans of Tayari Jones and Jodi Picoult. [See Prepub Alert, 7/1/19.]
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