Good Neighbors: A Novel

Good Neighbors: A Novel

by Joanne Serling

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781455541911
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
Publication date: 02/06/2018
Pages: 256
Sales rank: 355,654
Product dimensions: 5.90(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.30(d)

About the Author

Joanne Serling's fiction has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize and has appeared in New Ohio Review and North American Review. She is a graduate of Cornell University and studied and taught fiction at The Writers Studio in New York City. She lives outside of New York with her husband and children and is at work on her second book.

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Good Neighbors: A Novel 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 6 reviews.
lee2staes 9 months ago
I liked the concept of this novel, its an interesting one. What if you think your neighbor is abusing her child. What would you do and how far should you take it? The authors style is good, the storyline is compelling and could have been great but unfortunately, it was too chatty and it kind of fizzled out for me. The book started off well and I enjoyed parts of it. If you're a fan of family dramas then maybe you'll like this one, so give it a try. Copy provided by NetGalley in exchange for a fair and honest review.
Debi_2014andBeyond More than 1 year ago
When I saw the description of this story while browsing available books for reviewing thanks to my association as a book blogger with NetGalley, I was interested. With all the talk on the news about adoption recently, I became even more interested so I signed up and was approved.  While the book was released in February of this year, I was happy to learn that the paperback version will be available on Amazon on February 5, 2019!! I learned that Good Neighbors is Joanne Serling's first novel, and that was impressive. The story’s narrator is Nicole Westerhof, and she shares the story through her interactions with her troubled mother and sister, her husband and sons, as well as her neighbors.  They live in an upper middle class town, and this book and its story causes readers to question whether or not neighbors can really be friends, or are they just folks who happen to live near us.  The story even made me wonder what I would do if I found out "information" about one of my neighbors and how I would act or react. There are group of families in Good Neighbors in the neighborhood that seem to be inseparable. They all hvae young children, get together and they've formed their friendships based on the similar ages of their kids. Paige and Gene Edwards adopt a four-year old Russian girl and they name her Winifred ("Winnie").  Winnie is an unusual little girl, and Nicole seems to take a special interest in her to the extent that she then becomes concerned about her life. Nicole tries to talk to her husband about her concern, but like most men, her husband doesn't want to deal with what seems to be Nicole's chatterings of neighborhood gossip.  This, of course, forces Nicole to share her thoughts with the other neighbors.  The friendships of the neighbors then begins to deteriorate as the "whispering" about the Edwards' adoption grows. Nicole is a bit "surfacy" - she mentally criticizes people for the way they are dressed and notices details of folks. The other side of Nicole is that she is a great mother and wife, and her concern for Winner seems genuine.  Even her feelings for her mom and sister are believable and loving.  Paige looks perfect on the outside - perfect house, nicest yard in the neighborhood, throws awesome parties, etc. (thanks to her live-in hired help).  The truth, however, is that Paige cannot deal with a child that isn't perfect and her life starts to fall apart. As the storyline unfolds readers try to figure out whether Nicole and her neighbors are just being nosy and judgmental or if there really is something bad that is going to happen with Winnie. The characters in Good Neighbors are well described and believable; their struggles and personality quirks draw you in as you try to understand what moves them to behave the way they do. I felt the dialogue was well written and I was engaged with the lives of these characters from cover to cover.  Good Neighbors is a quick read (I read it in 2 days, thanks to being forced to work a day job).  Joanne Serling's first book is great, and I look forward to more from this writer! I was provided with a complimentary electronic advanced reader copy of this book through NetGalley in exchange for my post.  I was not required to post a positive review, but have chosen to do so because it was such a great story!
SuZ2Reader More than 1 year ago
Good Neighbors, Joanne Serling’s debut novel, proved to be an interesting read. The prologue with its distant feel didn’t add anything to the book and nearly kept me from continuing with it. Once I hung in for a while, I was glad I did. Told from the point of view of Nicole Westerhof, Good Neighbors is set in an idyllic suburb, four privileged families form rather superficial friendships based more on their allegiance to their neighborhood and lifestyles rather than true camaraderie. One of the couples, Paige and Gene Edwards, adopt a girl from Russia. The girl, Winnie, is said by her parents to be emotionally delayed and with destructive tendencies due to her time in the Russian orphanage. Her behavior outside the home, however, doesn’t ring true with their statements. The neighbors begin to wonder if the entire Edwards family is dysfunctional, if the mother alone is abusive, or if the child truly has emotional problems. From here, the friendships unravel. The group remains loyal to their privilege and their belief that no one in their upper class neighborhood could possibly be a child abuser. Nicole faces her own inadequacies as a mother while she obsesses about the fate of Winnie. Serling looks at the seen, the unseen; the blindness of privilege; a family’s right to privacy versus the universal need to protect the weak. Though slow to start simmering, Good Neighbors ends up rising to a full boil. It is compelling and thought-provoking as it deals with how superficially the neighbors are of other races (one of the families is Puerto Rican). These families are so ensconced in their upper-middle class comfort that they don’t confront the issues that are tearing their friendships and neighborhood apart until it is too late.
bookchickdi More than 1 year ago
Joanne Serling's novel Neighbors is set in a leafy suburb of Boston, where we meet four families, all in their forties. Their kids play together, they share dinners and parties and gossip and friendship. The story is told through the point of view of Nicole, who is married to Jay, a man who loves to talk about the looming economic doom facing the world. Nela works long hours as a corporate attorney while her husband Drew, who owns a baseball card store, handles most of the socializing. Lorraine is a divorced mom of two, who dresses impeccably, loves tennis and likes to boss everyone around. She always knows the scoop. Paige is unpredictable. She likes to run all the gatherings, has a spectacular home, and at a Leftovers Day celebration after Thanksgiving, announces that she and her husband Gene are adopting a four year-old Russian girl. Everyone is surprised, but happy for them. When Paige and Gene bring Winnie home after a month in Russia, Nicole, Nela and Lorraine stop by their house bearing gifts. Winnie is a lovely, shy little girl, but when they arrive home, Paige seems very uptight. She has a lot of rules for interactions with little Winnie- don't say "real parents", say "biological parents". Don't say that Winnie was "given away". Don't talk about her lazy eye. Nicole is delighted to meet Winnie, but soon it becomes apparent that there are problems. Paige tells odd tales of their time in Russia. She is short-tempered with Winnie, screaming at her for small things, correcting her behavior rudely in front of everyone. Gene takes time off from work to spend time with Winnie, whom he clearly adores. But things go downhill quickly. Paige interacts less and less with Winnie, spending more time at yoga or shopping. She doesn't bring Winnie to the neighborhood gatherings, then fires her longtime nanny. Soon Paige stops interacting with her friends. She locks herself and Winnie up in the house and refuses to speak to anyone. Nicole, Lorraine and Nela become worried for Winnie and Paige. Since the story is told from Nicole's point of view, we also get a glimpse of Nicole's dysfunctional family. Her sister Penny is an alcoholic, and she calls Nicole crying about her life and asking for money. Nicole's mother calls and complains about Penny, and berates Nicole for not being a better daughter. I found Nicole's family story very compelling, and wished there had been more about it. Nicole feels guilty for not being there for her mother and sister, but what she is doing is not helping their situation either. Fans of Lianne Moriarty's Big Little Lies will enjoy Good Neighbors. Reading it made me feel like I was in the neighborhood, peeking out of my curtains watching this group of friends try to figure out what is happening to their friend.
BooksAndSpoons More than 1 year ago
An interesting and mind-blowing look at the American suburban life, the secrets, the fake friends, the pretending and the smoke and mirrors people build to hide the truth about themselves, about their families, about their lives, and about the parenting. The story is told from the first person point of view by one of the neighbors the inner clique of the cul-de-sac. The writing style is unique, like bulleting points directed to the mind of the reader, building up images, and getting to be rather addictive after you get into the story. Nicole herself is struggling with her relationship with her mother and an alcoholic sister. She has anger issues and problems with impulse control when it comes to taking her frustration into her boys, the older son, in particular, having the constant battle in her mind not to physically punish him for not being exactly like she wanted him to be. To shadow her own behavior as a parent, she starts to pick apart every moment of interaction the neighbors have with their new adoptive daughter, finding and focusing on the negative images created by the busy minds. Not saying nothing is wrong, and everything is fine with the Edwards, but the neighbors are determined to be the judge and the jury, to claim them bad parents from the very start of Winnie's arrival to the house. This story took me by surprise. The raw honesty of the wicked human mind, the way people judge each other, the fakeness of pretend-friendships, the constant critique of others in a negative way, it ate my mind. Are we really that brutal towards each other? Do we really see so much negative aspects, in other people's lives around us? Is there real feelings. caring, friends, families out there at all? Is this something that happens 'only in America' or can this be an international, western world epidemic of the downfall of the human condition? Yes, this story definitely made me think, and celebrate my own choices in life of never ending up in the suburbs. I think this story could be a great conversation starter in a book club if people dared to be open and honest about the thoughts and revelations the story wakes up in them. A compelling story that awoke my mind with curiosity. It is provocative, it is engaging, and most definitely an interesting story, something I have to digest for a little while to really grasp the depth of the tale. ~ Four Spoons
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This brilliant book strikes at the heart of the selves we project and the selves we are, the factors in our lives, chosen and unchosen, who make us who we are and who we want to be, and the complex truths of the human condition always present, when the phone rings, waiting around a corner, or when the lights go out. The narrator Nicole is raw and perceptive in a way only true honesty allows. The writing is swift and clear;the story told in brief vignettes that leaves as much unsaid as said, and always wanting more. The novel is set in a well-heeled suburb, and centers around Nicole, her family, and three other families that live on the same street. But at its heart its about human nature, our capacity to construct our own realities, and what happens when the weeds begin to grow through the cracks of that reality. Just beautiful.