Have you noticed the amount of books that have recently been published that have a strong theme revolving around neighbors or a neighborhood? It’s fascinating! I’m definitely not a psychologist but if I had to guess, I would honestly attribute the success of the rash of this specific them to our current cultural climate! (That’s sounds pretty corny and a little too sophisticated for me, but roll with it, I’m going somewhere with this!)
In years past, the United States has had an idealistic and semi-unrealistic view of close-knit, white picket fenced, humble neighborhoods in which neighbors are agreeable and cordial in all things neighborly. They wave to each other. Deliver food to each other. Invite each other over for pot roast and mashed potatoes. People were perfect. Houses were perfect. Everything so perfectly pretentious.
Enter the year 2018. Our society has evolved into a highly cautious, revealing, REALISTIC environment. Children can no longer run freely. Alarm systems are in almost every house. AND GOODNESS, we all know they every episode of Forensic Files involves a “quite neighborhood where everyone kept their door unlocked.” And social media has become a social standard. We literally air our dirty laundry out to the internet, but hide from our neighbors. Of course, there are still towns that are quaint where neighbors are cordial and inviting, but I think these places are becoming less and less prevalent.
It’s exactly our lack of intimacy with our neighbor that plays into our fascination. We hear and see news stories, terrifying the audience with murders next door, kids being held hostage and the neighbors in shock, break-ins and robberies, and I could literally keep going on and on. BUT it’s so depressing! We are intrigued with what we know and we are terrified of what COULD happen. Right next door. It truly makes a very compelling theme.
Joanne Serling definitely knew what she was doing when writing Good Nieghbors and the story plays on all aspects of the unknown next door.
Good Neighbors follows the story of four families who have nothing in common other than they live several hundred feet away from each other. They have continued to have neighborhood get-togethers in an attempt to become more familiar with each other and to form a community. During one of these events, Paige divulges information that her and her husband are planning to adopt a child from Russia. When Paige and her family returns with their newly adopted, adorable Russian orphan, the neighbors quickly realize that the adoption is not as simple as expected and that maybe they don’t know as much about each other as they thought.
Serling’s writing is a little different than most stories in similar genres. You get a sense that something is going to happen however, Serling uses this to continue building and shaping the characters, keeping you interested because you feel like a fly on the wall. You are never quite sure what opinion to form of the neighbors, but you understand that everything is not always as it seems which is a moral that is played on heavily through this story.
I very much enjoyed reading Good Neighbors and I loved the twist at the end that really makes you think twice about the opinions you form.
If you want to give it a shot, check out the book here: