Perfectly Nice Neighbors

Books on Tape. Sept. 2023. 11:07 hrs. ISBN 9780593787717. $95. THRILLER
Abdullah’s (Take It Back) latest opens as Salma and Bilal Khatun move to a London suburb with their 18-year-old son, Zain. The Khatuns’ business failed during the pandemic, and now they are looking forward to a fresh start. While they initially feel welcome in their new neighborhood, things quickly go awry when their neighbor Tom Hutton removes a Black Lives Matter banner from their front garden. Salma moves the banner to display it from a window, only to find the next day that the window has been painted over. The Khatuns suspect racism. The Huttons deny it, and confrontations escalate. Meanwhile, Zain and Jamie Hutton find much in common and agree to be friends despite their parents’ conflict. The animosity between the neighbors intensifies, and soon, a lost job, a miscarriage, a missing dog, and a violent life-changing struggle send them all to court. Narrator Tania Rodrigues fluidly renders Abdullah’s novel, showing how social and racial assumptions can cause misunderstandings that spin out of control. Rodrigues reads this gripping story with emotion, expertly ratcheting up the tension as the situation between the families becomes more dire.
VERDICT This riveting thriller delivers plenty of twists alongside incisive social commentary. Great for book groups.
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