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A Good Neighborhood
by Therese Anne Fowler

Published: 2021-03-02T00:0
Paperback : 336 pages
15 members reading this now
38 clubs reading this now
4 members have read this book
Recommended to book clubs by 2 of 2 members
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, who’s headed to college in the fall. All is well until the Whitmans—a family with new money and a secretly ...
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Introduction

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, who’s headed to college in the fall. All is well until the Whitmans—a family with new money and a secretly troubled teenage daughter—raze the house and trees next door to build themselves a showplace.

With little in common except a property line, these two 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.

Editorial Review

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Excerpt

1
An upscale new house in a simple old neighborhood. A girl on a chaise beside a swimming pool, who wants to be left alone. We begin our story here, in the minutes before the small event that will change everything. A Sunday afternoon in May when our neighborhood is still maintaining its tenuous peace, a loose balance between old and new, us and them. Later this summer when the funeral takes place, the media will speculate boldly about who’s to blame. They’ll chal- lenge attendees to say on-camera whose side they’re on. ... view entire excerpt...

Discussion Questions

1. 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?

2. Of her new neighbors, Valerie acknowledges: “I basically
judged them from the second the chain saws started, and
that bothers me. I try to give everyone a chance, or how can
I complain when people pre-judge me?” (pg. 25). What
assumptions do these two families make about each other?
Which of these assumptions do you consider to be racist or
classist?

3. The "Greek chorus" narrative style 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?

4. “How many nights in the past few years had Valerie waited
up for her son, praying that he and his friends not be stopped
by the police?” (pg. 17). In what ways are both Juniper and
Xavier taught to protect themselves? How do each of them
handle the sociocultural limitations that are put on their
bodies?

5. 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”
(pg. 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?

Notes From the Author to the Bookclub

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Book Club Recommendations

Member Reviews

Overall rating:
 
 
by [email protected] (see profile) 02/03/21

So sad that racism is still prevalent today. This book will make you think.

 
  "A Good Neighborhood"by LibraryLady75 (see profile) 07/07/20

Our club found this book very timely. With race relations at the forefront of our daily lives, this story proved to be a very interesting read.

 
by LoveOfBooks (see profile) 05/19/20

 
  "It was good, but the plot was obvious"by thewanderingjew (see profile) 04/10/20

A Good Neighborhood, Therese Anne Fowler, author; Ella Turenne narrator
Valerie Alston-Holt, a widow, lives in a modest house in Oak Knolls, North Carolina. She is a woman of color who had
... (read more)

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