When I read The Glass Wives, Amy Sue Nathan’s first novel, the things that pulled me in were the believability of the characters and real life situations. The same held true in her second novel, The Good Neighbor (with one exception.) She does a great job of crafting characters that feel as if I already know them, in realistic, familiar situations. Perhaps I am the lucky demographic that fits the mold? Would my twenty-something daughter, or someone a generation or two older, feel the same? I cannot say.
The story starts with Izzy Lane packing up her five-year old’s Spiderman backpack as her ex arrives to pick him up for a weekly sleepover. Amy does a good job of expressing the mother’s guilt – slight relief of having a moment to herself to gather her thoughts, combine with the overwhelming loneliness and sense of loss once he is gone. How do you balance that? How do you incorporate the once again single – aka ‘alone’ – woman, into your life as a mother? First instincts are usually to keep the two worlds separate. That can be difficult. And as Izzy learns, taking it too far can lead to some sticky situations, even to the point of no return.
Early on in the book I started noticing slight similarities to the classic 1945 movie Christmas in Connecticut (although I thought it was just because that is my all-time favorite movie!). I was surprised to learn that the author had gotten some inspiration from the movie. Make no mistake though – this is no remake – this is a story all unto its self.
As much as I enjoyed reading The Good Neighbor, I have to admit two areas that left me unsatisfied. The way Izzy resolved her ‘issue’ seemed overdramatic and unnecessary. Airing the dirty laundry in public just didn’t make sense to me. Pulling the involved parties together to come clean seems more likely, create just as many hard feelings to overcome, etc. The other has to do with Izzy’s neighbor, Mrs. Feldman. I would have loved to have found out if she was ever able to attain her heart’s desire.
All in all, a good story I enjoyed reading. I look forward to meeting Teddi, the catalyst for confusion in Amy’s upcoming third novel.
**I received a finished copy of this book from the publisher, thank you St. Martin’s Griffin!!