Friday, April 30, 2021

Review: Good Neighbors by Sarah Langan


Title: Good  Neighbors
Author: Sarah Langan
Published: February 2021, Atria Books
Format: Hardcover, 304 pages
Source: Publisher

Celeste Ng’s enthralling dissection of suburbia meets Shirley Jackson’s creeping dread in this propulsive literary noir, when a sudden tragedy exposes the depths of deception and damage in a Long Island suburbpitting neighbor against neighbor and putting one family in terrible danger.

Welcome to Maple Street, a picture-perfect slice of suburban Long Island, its residents bound by their children, their work, and their illusion of safety in a rapidly changing world.

Arlo Wilde, a gruff has-been rock star who’s got nothing to show for his fame but track marks, is always two steps behind the other dads. His wife, beautiful ex-pageant queen Gertie, feels socially ostracized and adrift. Spunky preteen Julie curses like a sailor and her kid brother Larry is called “Robot Boy” by the kids on the block.

Their next-door neighbor and Maple Street’s Queen Bee, Rhea Schroeder—a lonely community college professor repressing her own dark past—welcomes Gertie and family into the fold. Then, during one spritzer-fueled summer evening, the new best friends share too much, too soon.

As tensions mount, a sinkhole opens in a nearby park, and Rhea’s daughter Shelly falls inside. The search for Shelly brings a shocking accusation against the Wildes that spins out of control. Suddenly, it is one mom’s word against the other’s in a court of public opinion that can end only in blood.

A riveting and ruthless portrayal of American suburbia, Good Neighbors excavates the perils and betrayals of motherhood and friendships and the dangerous clash between social hierarchy, childhood trauma, and fear.


My thoughts: There is nothing I love more than finding a book set on Long Island. Add in a little neighborhood drama and a little craziness and I'm all in! And that is exactly what we get here with this new book by Sarah Langan.

This book is nothing short of fascinating. I found myself completely engaged right from the start, probably because I have always lived in suburbia all my live and find any commentary on this kind of life interesting. Watching a neighborhood react to a new family that doesn't quite fit their idea of what a perfect family is was both shocking and thrilling. I couldn't read this book fast enough to see how things would unfold and what secrets would spill out. Add in an unfortunate incident and tensions mount to unthinkable levels. Mob mentality takes hold and it is wild!

I loved the way the author used different tools to tell this story - the narrative, interviews, articles, alternating points of view - it all combines to keep you fully engaged. At times cringe-worthy and at times dark, this book is one that just begs to be read. I needed to know how things were going to play out and where things would ultimately end up. These characters weren't just flawed, some were downright unbelievable, yet I venture to guess we have all come across someone like them in our paths at one point or another.

This book is one I certainly won't be forgetting anytime soon. As hard a read as it was in certain parts, it certainly would make for a great bookclub pick as this book has so much to unpack. I definitely recommend this as it really is an eye-opening read for sure.



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