REVIEW: THE NEW NEIGHBORS, BY SIMON LELIC

 

Londoners Jack and Syd found their dream home: lots of space, a great location, and a friendly owner who wanted a young couple to have it.

Everything is exactly what they hoped for when they move in–except Jack makes a disturbing discovery in the attic, and Syd begins to wonder about the girl next door. And they each keep the other in the dark.

A mistake.

Because someone has just been killed outside their back door, and now the police are watching them.

This is their chance to prove they’re innocent–or to get away with murder.

Whose story do you believe?

My Thoughts: Alternating narrators tell the story of The New Neighbors. Jack and Syd have reasons to keep secrets. Now the past is creeping up on them, but what will happen before they are finally free?

The story goes back and forth in time, and just when we think we know what is happening, more of the past is revealed…and we are suddenly unsure of both Jack and Syd. Neither appears reliable, and the reasons for their secrets and lies add complex layers to the tale.

Syd has taken the young neighbor girl Elsie under her wing. When she sees how Elsie’s father treats her, she is reminded of her own terrible father, and about how she needed someone to step up for her. Being a protector feels like finally escaping the past.

Themes of controlling and violent fathers hover throughout the story; from Syd’s father to Elsie’s, we can see the damage that a bad father can do. Damage that will affect the daughters moving forward. But it is also possible for at least one damaged daughter to show strength and courage, finding a way to extricate herself from what might seem like a permanent nightmare.

Until the very end, I kept vacillating, trying to decide the truth. Even as the author threw different possible scenarios into the mix, I kept hoping that, finally, all would be revealed. 4.5 stars.

***
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