Think you live in a good neighborhood? Think you know your neighbors? Well, think again. The residents of Oak Hills, North Carolina, a simple, old neighborhood, would have answered "yes" to both questions. Those thinly veiled affirmatives hide the hopes that family secrets will never be unveiled. Frankly, it's no one's business what goes on behind closed doors - unless,of course there is something illegal or harmful happening.
A hyper-omniscient narrator takes us into the private lives of families who represent both the best and the worst in today's world. Most of the "worsts" are attitudinal.. Phoniness oozes. All smiles and openness for the African American college professor at book club meetings and at social events. Behind her back conjecture arises about her deceased white husband and her bi-racial son.
Too rich. Not rich enough. Along with the racial inequalities, our gentle narrator explores how class evolves and manifests even in small neighborhoods. When the Whitman's build a mansion with a pool, encroaching on nearby properties and wilfully destroying majestic, historic trees and other landmarks in order the properly attire the home, things change. First, the significance bar raises. Big house equals big, important people, right? People with power who know other people with power can change the landscape quickly and that is exactly happens.
This is where the heart-breaking story begins and ends : Later this summer when the funeral takes place, the media will speculate boldly on who's to blame. They'll challenge attendees to say on-camera whose side they're on. For the record: we never wanted to take sides.
The Good Neighborhood by Therese Anne fowler, publication date February 4, 2020. Watch for this one.