Thursday, 23 June 2016

The Perfect Neighbors

Author: Sarah Pekkanen
Genre: Contemporary Fiction, Suspense
Type: e-book
Source: NetGalley
Publisher: Atria Books
First Published: July 5, 2016
First Line: "Kellie Scott frowned, her fingers hesitating over her keyboard."

Book Description from GoodReadsBucolic Newport Cove, where spontaneous block parties occur on balmy nights and all of the streets are named for flowers, is proud of its distinction of being named one the top twenty safest neighborhoods in the US.

It’s also one of the most secret-filled.

Kellie Scott has just returned to work after a decade of being a stay-at-home mom. She’s adjusting to high heels, scrambling to cook dinner for her family after a day at the office—and soaking in the dangerous attention of a very handsome, very married male colleague. Kellie’s neighbor Susan Barrett begins every day with fresh resolutions: she won’t eat any carbs. She’ll go to bed at a reasonable hour. And she’ll stop stalking her ex-husband and his new girlfriend. Gigi Kennedy seems to have it all together—except her teenage daughter has turned into a hostile stranger and her husband is running for Congress, which means her old skeletons are in danger of being brought into the light.

Then a new family moves to this quiet, tree-lined cul-de-sac. Tessa Campbell seems friendly enough to the other mothers, if a bit reserved. Then the neighbors notice that no one is ever invited to Tessa’s house. And soon, it becomes clear Tessa is hiding the biggest secret of all.

My Rating: 4.5/5 stars

Disclaimer: My sincere thanks to Atria Books and NetGalley for providing me with a complimentary e-book copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

My Review: After I started this book not a whole lot got done around here - this reader was well and truly riveted.  Apparently I live under the proverbial rock because this is the first book I've read by Sarah Pekkanen.  Needless to say, I was very impressed with her writing style and her incorporation of modern issues within a group of well-rounded, and interesting female characters.  

The Perfect Neighbor focuses on the lives of four women each with her own unique personality and issues:

  • Susan - successful business owner and single mom who is struggling to deal with her divorce
  • Kellie, the long-time married mom of two who has just went back to work outside the home after years of being a stay-at-home mother
  • Gigi, married to a future politician and mother of two
  • Tessa, wife and mother of two who recently and abruptly uprooted her family to move into the neighbourhood
These four women live in Newport Cove, a highly sought after area that is hailed as "one of the 20 safest neighborhoods in America".  But even within this bucolic neighbourhood secrets abound.  Each of these women have their own issues to deal with including adulterous thoughts, learning to pick up the pieces after a divorce, dealing with a crumbling relationship with a teenage child and a secret that could destroy the new life they've built with their family.

What amazed me was how easily and thoroughly I was mesmerized by each of the women's stories.  They were each given page time to tell their own tales and I found myself drawn into their lives fairly evenly.  As a reader I felt like I got a bird's eye view of their family squabbles, insecurities and issues as they struggled with fears and uncertainties within some of their most influential and important relationships.

Secrets - we all have them - and so do Pekkanen's main characters.  While all of the issues were quite serious some had a more emotional tone. To balance out the drama, at the beginning of chapters she includes funny posts from the neighbourhood residents from their online interactive newsletter.  These sometimes banal yet funny responses to the 'issues' of living in their neighbourhood helped to bring some levity to such an issue laden read.

After I finished reading this book I sat back to digest it and I came to the conclusion that although there is a mystery/suspense aspect to the book The Perfect Neighbors is much more about the struggles each of these women face. Pekkanen has given these four well-rounded characters clear and distinct voices as they deal with their own issues, which are quite pertinent to today's woman. The mystery aspect was secondary but added a nice pull throughout the book and a suspenseful scene towards the end.  Part of me wishes that there was a bigger twist to the big reveal but overall it flowed well with the rest of the story.

In the end, I really enjoyed this book and it can firmly be put in the 'hard-to-put-down' pile.  Fans of Liane Moriarty's Big Little Lies will enjoy this book.

Highly recommended.

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