Saturday, August 6, 2016

Perfect Neighbors by Sarah Pekkanen

What They Say....Bucolic 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.

What I Say.....Sarah Pekkanen has always been one of my favorites, but honestly, I think this was her best book yet.
I belong to a neighborhood Facebook group and some of the entries on it are strikingly similar to Newport Coves, except some of the ones on ours are even worse.  The simplest things can cause huge controversies and sometimes you get to see a side of people you really didn't want to.  Pictures of bad parking jobs are posted, if someone thinks you are driving too fast, your kids are too loud when they are playing, or your dog barks at the wrong time, watch out.  You will have a day long debate amongst people who don't even know you or what your side of the story is.  I think the post that had the most comments was one where people were debating whether people in the neighboring community had the right to use the community park, since they don't pay HOA fees.  The highlight reel was that someone suggested installing a fence where you needed ID checked to make sure you were a resident, the people from the neighboring community were called trespassers and it culminated in one older real estate agent asking the people who disagreed with him to meet him at the park to fight.  It was truly magical people watching, and it opened your eyes to the people who live next to you.

Newport Cove sounds a lot like my community.  When Tessa's family moves in, the neighborhood ladies are intrigued when she seems to be uninterested in becoming part of their neighborhood clique, but Tessa has bigger fish to fry.  She is just trying to keep her family afloat and protecting their secret.

Tessa's husband is a walking zombie after the unspoken thing happened in their old neighborhood.  So she's distracted and making herself look more suspicious by avoiding her friendly new neighbors.

Susan is still in the throes of a traumatic divorce.  She has created a great business, helping the elderly people who are living far from their children, visiting, driving to doctor's appointments, and bringing them goodies.  But as her business bloomed, her marriage faded.  Her ex-husband is happily ensconced in a house with her former friend, and Susan makes a habit out of torturing herself by parking and staring at their home.

Who amongst us hasn't had an ex where you did the drive-by?  Why?  I have no idea, because it just makes you more miserable.  But you get over it and you move on.  But Susan is having a hard time with that, made worse by the fact that her ex and his new girlfriend live in the same neighborhood and have the same friends.

Kellie's got a great husband and a loving family, but as she goes back to work, she's dallying with the idea of an affair with her hot co-worker.  Why?  Because she's bored.  

Gigi's husband wants to be a Congressman, even though she's a semi-regular pot smoker, complete with a sullen teenaged daughter.  Gigi mostly seems bemused by the whole political scene, except she worries how her kids will be impacted by the whole thing.  And when her husband's campaign manager moves into her basement, her daughter starts changing before her eyes - but for the better.  But Gigi's still worried.

So basically I could see many women I already know in these characters.  Sometimes it seems like everyone is basically living the same life, with only slightly different experiences.

This is probably one of my favorite books that I've read this summer.  

Current Goodreads Rating 3.70

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