About The Book
A sudden tragedy pits neighbour against neighbour and puts 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. But when the Wilde family moves in, they trigger their neighbours’ worst fears. Arlo and Gertie and their weird kids don’t fit with the way Maple Street sees itself. As tensions mount, a sinkhole opens in a nearby park, and neighbourhood Queen Bee Rhea’s daughter Shelly falls inside. The search for Shelly brings a shocking accusation against the Wildes. Suddenly, it is one mother’s word against the other’s in a court of public opinion that can end only in blood.
A riveting and ruthless portrayal of suburbia, Good Neighbours excavates the perils and betrayals of motherhood and friendships and the dangerous clash between social hierarchy, childhood trauma, and fear.
With thanks to the publisher for the copy received. When Gertie and Arlo move to Maple Street, Long Island, with their children Julia and Larry they are over the moon. A proper home with stairs and a garden. Admittedly Gertie isn’t the best at housework but Arlo is and tries to encourage the children to be like him. Gertie thinks she has found a friend in next door neighbour Rhea but she is mistaken. Rhea has many issues, and despite looking like a good mother, wife and teacher she is far from it. But she also has a lot of power in the area and many of the neighbours fall over themselves to impress her. When a sinkhole appears on Maple Street, and Shelley, Rhea’s daughter falls in Gertie and her family soon realise how unwelcome they are and that the vicious rumours that are being spread by Rhea could destroy them.
The book takes place in 2027 with brief interviews and press reports from the 2030s and 2040s. Both worked perfectly, you could see how hysteria, paranoia and jealousy affected nearly all of the adults who feature in the novel. I found it interesting how their accounts changed, like they were trying to justify their actions. It is close to a miracle that their children, known as the ‘Rat Pack’ were on the whole decent people who could see that things weren’t quite like their parents insisted they were and were willing to risk their own lives to find Shelley.
I loved the way the author played with the reader. I couldn’t guess at what each neighbour might say or do next. Some of them manipulated their children into tormenting Gertie and Arlo and ignored the guilt caused by their actions. I felt that it was the media reports that were published years after the event that showed what they were really capable of. There was little remorse and a lot of self pity.
Many people have neighbours they become best of friends with but some have ones that they go out of their way to avoid. If I lived anywhere like Maple Street, I would have done everything I could to avoid most of the adults who were neighbours in this book.