REVIEW: THE GOOD NEIGHBOR, BY AMY SUE NATHAN

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When Izzy Lane is dumped by her husband, Bruce Silverstein, she feels lost and demoralized. But she has to be strong for her five-year-old son Noah, so she chooses a move that will feel comfortable and familiar. She moves into her childhood home in Northeast Philadelphia, after her parents vacate the house to move to the beach. She also works as a high school counselor, and enjoys her role as a helping professional.

In the neighborhood, she finds a familiar solace from Mrs. Feldman, the next door neighbor who has been a constant since childhood.

Additionally, her best friend Jade, along with her cousin Rachel, constitute a support system of sorts.

But that isn’t enough for her. She wants to show that she is moving on, so she starts a personal blog in which she shares her thoughts and feelings about being a single mom, and because she loves the comments she is getting, she starts to share more. Embellish a little. It begins to get out of hand, but then it takes on a life of its own, thanks to her friend Jade, who has an online site called Pop Philly. Jade wants her to write a blog for singles over forty…and she will pay her. What happens next will have unexpected consequences.

How does Izzy’s secret turn into a blackmail attempt by a co-worker? What will Izzy do to try to make things right? Can Izzy’s friendships survive? Will she be further demoralized, or can some good come of it all?

Narrated in Izzy’s first person voice, The Good Neighbor is a story about friendship, about betrayal, and about trying to live with the hand you’re dealt. It is also about what happens when you forget to be true to yourself. Recommended for women dealing with similar issues. 4 stars.

***My e-ARC was received from the publisher via NetGalley.

REVIEW: WALKING ON TRAMPOLINES, BY FRANCES WHITING

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Tallulah (Lulu) de Longland and Annabelle Andrews first met at age twelve, when Annabelle sashayed into the classroom where Lulu was already seated, and bewitched her. Lulu was completely enchanted by Annabelle and her parents, artistes named Frank and Annie, and Annabelle’s habit of creating new words from two separate ones (glamorgeus), a secret language that would define the unique and magical world they would create.

Lulu’s parents, Harry and Rose, were eccentric in their own right, so there was also something appealing here for Annabelle, who craved the kind of attention she got at the de Longland home. Harry, a plumber “plumbing the depths of excellence,” proudly announced his skills via a sign at the front door; and Rose, serving baked goods and naming the dresses she wore, which also seemed to announce her moods, would reveal herself to be fragile and lacking in mothering skills, but able to create her own special ambience.

When Joshua Keaton sailed into Lulu’s life a few years later, and she felt the pangs of first love, she had no idea that, before high school was over, her world would implode, creating lasting scars. Meanwhile, the nuns at St. Rita’s, the Catholic School, would instill attitudes that would define expectations for both Annabelle and Lulu, but which Lulu alone would try to live up to.

Walking on Trampolines is a delightful story of friendship, betrayal, and ultimately discovering one’s truest self.

Populated with interesting characters, like Duncan McAllister, a radio personality who takes Lulu on as his personal assistant and then proceeds to be her mentor and her closest friend in adulthood. And then there is Will, someone Lulu meets when she moves to Willow Island with her loving companion Barney, Duncan’s dog.

What shocking thing does Lulu do that will change the direction of her life? How will what some consider her betrayal turn her life around and give her the chance to truly shine? And how will Duncan’s legacy inspire Lulu to express her unique self?

Set in Australia, beginning in a small town named Juniper Bay, we follow Lulu’s journey, rooting for her as she finally transcends the mistakes of the past, while reclaiming the core elements that made her who she was. I liked the healing moments near the end, and the joining together of the characters in a dramatic protest. 4.0 stars.