[537]: The New Neighbor by Leah Stewart

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GOODREADS SUMMARY | Simon & Schuster Canada | ARC paperback, 288 pages | Publication Date: July 7th, 2015 | Adult Fiction | Rating: 3 out of 5 Stars


Although it took me a while to get into the swing of reading this book, The New Neighbor turned out to be one of those novels that had an uncanny ability to drive you crazy. Primarily because it was a very closed-book that didn’t show its true colours until towards the end. Reading this book felt like I had an itch buried subcutaneously that was hard to scratch.

The story follows two women at two opposing points of their lives. One is a 90-year-old woman who’d practically lived like a hermit all her life; and the other, a single parent looking for a fresh start with her son. In more ways than one, they are an unlikely pair. However, through their interactions, a fragile dynamic will be formed. In the nexus of their relationship is a mutual curiosity that would somehow assuage them of their guilt; a way to face the past. But were they really guilty? Or were they victims of their own circumstances? That’s the crux of this book, and Leah Stewart did a tremendous job in flaying her characters in such a way that would appeal to her empathy-deficient readers.

Admittedly, my issue with this book was that I thought the author forgave them easily, made excuses for them, even. The ending, in particular left a lot to be desired. No one was punished. No one repented simply because the characters were made to feel like they were within their rights. I supposed they were right. But in doing so, the story lacked the emotional pull required to feel satiated. I wasn’t enraged. At the end of the novel, all I felt was an “unfeeling” relief that it was over.

Thanks to Simon & Schuster for the ARC.