One of our recommended books for 2019 is A Good Neighborhood by Therese Anne Fowler

A GOOD NEIGHBORHOOD


With little in common except a property line, these two very different families quickly find themselves at odds: first, over an historic oak tree, and soon after, the blossoming romance between their two teenagers. Told in 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.

more …

With little in common except a property line, these two very different families quickly find themselves at odds: first, over an historic oak tree, and soon after, the blossoming romance between their two teenagers. Told in 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.

less …
  • St. Martin’s Press
  • Hardcover
  • February 2020
  • 320 Pages
  • 9781250237279

Buy the Book

$27.99

indies Bookstore indies Bookstore

About Therese Anne Fowler

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.

Praise

“Therese Anne Fowler has taken the ingredients of racism, justice, and conservative religion and has concocted a feast of a read: compelling, heartbreaking, and inevitable. 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 

“Compelling and captivating, A Good Neighborhood left me speechless yet wanting to discuss. This is a story that will stick with you for a long time.” —Emily Giffin, #1 New York Times bestselling author of All We Ever Wanted

Discussion Questions

1. Early in the novel, Juniper considers: “What, she wondered, made a neighborhood good? To her parents, good seemed to mean there were mainly other people like themselves.” (50) What do you think makes a “good” neighborhood, and is Oak Knoll one of them? As new houses are built in older, existing neighborhoods, do you think that changes the feel and culture of a place?

2. Do you view the Whitman family as genuinely Christian, or is religion primarily a tool for Julia and Brad? Can both things be true at the same time?

3. Race can be a sensitive topic, and it features prominently in A Good Neighborhood. How comfortable do you feel talking about race, and do you think this novel changed your perspective on the role that race plays in the United States?

4. Almost immediately, we are told, “Later this summer when the funeral takes place, the media will speculate boldly on who’s to blame. They’ll challenge attendees to say on camera whose side they’re on.” (5) How does knowing that a tragedy lies ahead change your reading experience?

5. Who should shoulder the blame for the chain of aggression between these neighbors? What actions could have been taken by either family to tame the tension?

6. The Greek chorus makes the reader a part of the story, and complicit in the action. How did that affect your reading? Who did you believe the “we” was in the book’s narration?

7. The book club in the novel is reading and discussing Vladimir Nabokov’s Lolita. How does that classic novel echo or amplify the action in A Good Neighborhood?

8. “As our resident English professor would remind us, place, especially in stories of the South, is as much a character as any human, and inseparable from—in this case even necessary to—the plot.” (13) The novel is set in North Carolina. How does the setting inform the story? Do you think that attitudes and ghosts of history impact the characters in the book?