The Neighbor Favor

The Neighbor Favor

by Kristina Forest
The Neighbor Favor

The Neighbor Favor

by Kristina Forest

Paperback

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Overview

A shy bookworm enlists her charming neighbor to help her score a date, not knowing he’s the obscure author she’s been corresponding with, in this sparkling and heart-fluttering romance by Kristina Forest.

Shy, bookish, and admittedly awkward, Lily Greene has always felt inadequate compared to the rest of her accomplished family, who strive for Black excellence. She dreams of becoming a children’s books editor, but she’s been frustratingly stuck in the nonfiction division for years without a promotion in sight. Lily finds escapism in her correspondences with her favorite fantasy author, and what begins as two lonely people connecting over email turns into a tentative friendship and possibly something else Lily won’t let herself entertain—until he ghosts her without a word.
 
Months later, Lily is still crushed, but she’s determined to get a hold of her life, starting with finding a date to her sister’s wedding. And the perfect person to help her is Nick Brown, her charming, attractive new neighbor, who she feels drawn to for reasons she can’t explain. But little does she know, Nick is an author—her favorite fantasy author.
 
Nick, who has his reasons for using a pen name and pushing people away, soon realizes that the beautiful, quiet girl from down the hall is the same Lily he fell in love with over email months ago. Unwilling to complicate things even more between them, he agrees to set her up with someone else, though this simple favor between two neighbors is anything but—not when he can't get her off his mind...

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780593546437
Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date: 02/28/2023
Pages: 416
Sales rank: 16,511
Product dimensions: 5.10(w) x 7.90(h) x 1.00(d)

About the Author

Kristina Forest is an author of romance books for young adults. Her novels include I Wanna Be Where You Are, Now That I've Found You, Zyla & Kai and The Neighbor Favor. She earned her MFA in Creative Writing at The New School, and she can often be found rearranging her bookshelf.

Read an Excerpt

1

From: Lily G. lilyg@gmail.com

To: N.R. Strickland nrs@nrstrickland.com

Date: May 9, 6:21pm

Subject: You have a website!

Dear Mr. Strickland,

Have you ever been stuck on a subway train without air-conditioning on a 92-degree weather day? If not, count yourself lucky, because that's what I'm experiencing right now and it's absolute torture.

Okay, now that I have that off my chest, I want it to be clear that I never do stuff like this. And by stuff, I mean cold emailing a stranger. Chances are you probably won't read this message, so my nerves might be for nothing. You did just create a website even though The Elves of Ceradon was published five years ago, so my assumption is that you don't spend too much time online, which isn't really a bad thing.

My name is Lily and I read your novel almost two years ago while working at a used bookstore. I'd never heard of your book and neither had my boss, so he told me to toss it. Mostly because this particular copy looked like a dog had chewed the bottom-right corner, which basically meant we couldn't sell it. But the thought of throwing books away feels like a crime, and I was curious, so I started reading on my lunch break. Then I kept reading throughout the rest of my shift, on the bus ride home, all through dinner, and I stayed up until 3am to finish. Reading your book made me remember why I loved reading so much growing up. At the time, I'd been out of college for a year and hadn't considered working with books outside of being a bookseller, but I realized maybe I could edit books like yours, but for children. Once I had that goal, everything changed. I work in book publishing now-not in the role I want, necessarily, but it's a foot in the door. I think I have you and your book to thank, in a way. It got me through a tough and confusing time in my life.

Anyway, I won't bore you with the details of my previous existential crisis. (Again, not sure you'll even end up reading this.) I'm emailing you because I wanted to tell you that I loved your book. I thought Deko was one of the most interesting protagonists I've read in a long time. Do you plan to write a sequel? It ended on such a cliff-hanger with Deko, delirious and battle weary, finally reaching Ceradon but getting attacked by a life leech as soon as he touched the city gates! Did he survive? Did he die? I've been wondering this for two years.

I'm sure you're inundated with messages thanks to your new website and contact form, but I hope

From: N.R. Strickland nrs@nrstrickland.com

To: Lily G. lilyg@gmail.com

Date: May 14, 10:42pm

Subject: Re: You have a website!

Lily-

You hope what? Did you mean to leave that sentence unfinished?

Either way, thank you for your kind message. It was really nice and surprising to read. You're wrong in assuming that I'm inundated with emails. Yours is the first email I've ever received through my website, and to be honest, I thought you were someone sending me hate mail. You're probably the only person who ever visits the site, other than my agent, who made the site for me.

I'm glad that my book served as an inspiration for you and your career. That's probably the only way my book has ever inspired another person.

To answer your first question, no, I've never been stuck on a subway when it was 92 degrees outside. However, I did once find myself locked inside of a loo on a submarine in the middle of the Indian Ocean. Long story.

To answer your second question, no, I don't plan to write a sequel. I don't think of myself as an author anymore. More like a one-hit wonder, sans the hit. As far as I'm concerned, The Elves of Ceradon was written in another life, back when I was 22 and naive and thought I'd be the Black George R. R. Martin. Did Deko die lying there at the city gates? Did a Ceradonian elf come to his rescue? I don't know. I'll leave that up to your interpretation.

Wishing you luck in life.

~NRS

From: Lily G. lilyg@gmail.com

To: N.R. Strickland nrs@nrstrickland.com

Date: May 15, 7:13am

Subject: Re: You have a website!

Dear Mr. Strickland,

Oh my God. I had no idea I actually sent that email to you. I wrote it in a delirious, dehydrated state, right before I literally fainted. I was serious about that hot subway. Reading over my email, I can tell just how out of it I was. And I didn't even finish it! I'm mortified.

And shocked?? I can't believe that you actually read my email and that you replied. I was honestly starting to think that maybe you didn't exist. I'm the only person I know who has read your book. Whenever I mention it to people, they have no idea what I'm talking about, which is really disappointing, because they don't know what they're missing, and I love my copy too much to loan it out. I have no idea where I'd find another if someone didn't give it back. It looks like the book went out of print only a few months after publication.

I'm sorry to hear that you no longer think of yourself as an author. I didn't realize how young you were when you wrote Elves. That's so impressive. When I was 22, I was hiding from my roommates in our senior hall suite so that they wouldn't force me to go to parties.

Your reply came at just the right time. It's exactly the energy booster I need for my job interview later this afternoon. I'm taking it as a good omen. 

Sincerely,

Lily G.

From: N.R. Strickland nrs@nrstrickland.com

To: Lily G. lilyg@gmail.com

Date: June 12, 11:01pm

Subject: Re: You have a website!

Lily-

Apologies, I'm over a month late. So you're saying you emailed me when you weren't in a clear state of mind, literal seconds before you fainted. That's mad! I hope you were okay afterward. And I have to be honest, getting an email from you in the first place makes a lot more sense now. I guess someone would have to be a little delirious to go out of their way to email me.

I'm glad you love your copy of Elves so much that you wouldn't let anyone else borrow it. And yes, Labyrinth Press closed its doors the same year I signed my contract. They were able to print a few copies of Elves beforehand. It wasn't an ideal career start, but I've come to accept my path. Again, not an author anymore.

How did that interview go?

~NRS

From: Lily G. lilyg@gmail.com

To: N.R. Strickland nrs@nrstrickland.com

Date: June 13, 8:21am

Subject: Re: You have a website!

Dear Mr. Strickland,

I wasn't expecting you to email back the first time, and I definitely wasn't expecting to hear from you twice. This just made my day.

The interview didn't go so well, unfortunately. I didn't make it past the first round, which kind of sucks because it was an assistant editor position with a well-known children's publisher.

I've gone on a handful of interviews within the past year, and I never make it very far in the process. For one, even though I know so much about children's books, that knowledge leaves my brain as soon as I sit down and I just start blabbering. The other issue is that most interviewers don't think I have enough experience, which isn't wrong. For two years, I've been an editorial assistant at an adult nonfiction imprint. I spend my days reading manuscripts about plagues and genocides and dictators, among other topics. Working on a book about the Satanic Panic doesn't clearly translate to working with children's authors who could be the next Rick Riordan. At least that's what I'm told during interviews.

Anyway, that's my life career-wise. You said you were on assignment. If you're not an author anymore, what do you do?

Sincerely,

Lily G.

From: Lily G. lilyg@gmail.com

To: N.R. Strickland nrs@nrstrickland.com

Date: June 13, 8:26am

Subject: Re: You have a website!

Dear Mr. Strickland,

Please let me apologize for my last email. It was so presumptuous. I'm sure you don't care to hear about my career problems. You don't even have to respond. In fact, I hope you don't, because it will save me a ton of embarrassment.

The email made me sound really ungrateful. I'm not, I swear. I have a job at one of the most well-known North American publishers. And I know how hard it is to break into publishing, especially if you're Black. I applied to hundreds of positions for a year and got nowhere, until a distant, loopy connection through my mom's church scored me an internship with my boss. Her assistant quit three weeks into my internship and she didn't want to be bothered with another interview process, so she hired me. I got this job through dumb luck and timing.

I am grateful. The work is important. It's just not the work I want to be doing, and reading that tough and depressing material every day is starting to get to me. Most days I don't leave the office until after 7pm. I go to sleep dreaming about epidemics and assassinations.

I'm only 25 and there's plenty of time for me to follow my dream to edit children's books. I know that. I just keep thinking that this would be easier to get through if my boss was at least a semidecent person.

Sincerely,

Lily G.

From: Lily G. lilyg@gmail.com

To: N.R. Strickland nrs@nrstrickland.com

Date: June 13, 8:27am

Subject: Re: You have a website!

Dear Mr. Strickland,

SORRY. I apologized about oversharing and then overshared even more, because treating emails like taxicab confessionals is something I do now, apparently! It felt safe to share because you don't really know me, and it's not like we'll ever meet. Once I started writing, it was hard to stop.

I'm aware that I've made things incredibly awkward. I hope you've decided to stop checking your emails indefinitely, and my cringeworthy musings can be left unread in your inbox forever.

Sincerely,

Lily

From: N.R. Strickland nrs@nrstrickland.com

To: Lily G. lilyg@gmail.com

Date: July 15, 9:32pm

Subject: Re: You have a website!

Lily-

Cringeworthy is the shitty short stories I used to submit during creative writing workshop. Your emails about your career aren't nearly as bad. You haven't made things awkward and you don't have to apologize. The subject matter you currently edit does sound bleak, though. I'd want to leave that job too.

Here's a story that will make you feel better. When I was at university, my literary agent (who wasn't my literary agent back then, just my flatmate), encouraged me to go to a novel-pitching conference. I'd been working on Elves for over a year in my creative writing courses, and my professors seemed to like what I was doing, so I scrounged together the conference attendance fee. I printed out copies of the first few chapters and pitched Elves to at least thirty editors, and no one was interested. I was told that adult fantasy wasn't selling, which I didn't think made sense because Game of Thrones was the biggest show on television. A few editors asked, "But the elves are Black?" It was an enormous waste of money. Right when I decided to leave, a man walked up to me and said he'd overheard my pitch. He was working at a small press that specifically published fantasy and science fiction. He said Elves sounded right up their alley. That's how I got my chance.

Eventually, this turned out to be a terrible decision because I signed a dodgy contract, and the book, along with my career, went nowhere, and then the publisher closed down by the end of the year and I never got paid my full advance. But I think you get my point. Sometimes it only takes one yes. Hopefully your yes doesn't leave you worse off like me.

About my current work, I've been writing for a travel magazine since I graduated. I often find myself having very in-depth conversations with people I don't know very well in different parts of the world, so I don't find it weird that you've shared bits of your life with me. I agree there's something cathartic about it, which I guess is why I keep responding to you now that I think about it. Other than my boss and agent, you're the only person who emails me consistently.

I'm currently on assignment in Iceland. Have you ever been? It's not as cold as I thought it would be. The name is misleading.

Attached is a picture of the waterfall Skógafoss. I read online that this is the most "stereotypical" waterfall in Iceland. Doesn't look all that stereotypical to me. I hope it cheers you up.

~NRS

P.S. You can stop calling me Mr. Strickland. It makes me sound elderly. I'm 27, only two years older than you.

From: Lily G. lilyg@gmail.com

To: N.R. Strickland nrs@nrstrickland.com

Date: July 15, 10:59pm

Subject: Re: You have a website!

Dear [insert name],

If you don't want me to call you Mr. Strickland, what should I call you?

I'm relieved that oversharing my personal woes didn't scare you off. From my emails, you would think that I'm used to speaking so freely, but I'm really not talkative at all. In middle school, my classmates called me the Mouse. Middle school was torture for a number of reasons, and I at least wish they would have come up with a more creative nickname.

I've never been to Iceland. I've actually never traveled outside of the US. It's so cool that you write for a travel magazine. I guess you're probably never in the same place for long periods of time. Do you have any favorite cities or countries?

The waterfall definitely does not look stereotypical to me. Thank you for sharing the picture. It did cheer me up. That interview was almost a month ago now, and I still get sad thinking about how much I wanted that job, but there will be others. I just have to keep trying.

Getting out of the city helps (I live in Brooklyn). I've spent most of today at my parents' house in New Jersey for their annual July 15th birthday barbecue (they have the same birthday). Other than Christmas, it's the one time of year that we're all together. My sister Violet is based in New York, but at any given time, she could be anywhere in the world. And my other sister Iris lives in the same neighborhood as my parents with her daughter, but she's always working, so I hardly see her. On July 15th, everyone is home and it's nice. Violet is a stylist, so she forces us to participate in fashion shows, and my dad and uncles sit on the patio and play Spades (a card game that I have no idea how to play). It's a good time.

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