The Perfect Neighbors
By: Sarah Pekkanen
Publication Date: 7/5/2016
My Rating: 5 Stars (ARC) Perfect Neighbors takes us into the homes of an idyllic suburban neighborhood where we discover the burning secrets hiding just below the surface. 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.
Chick-lit + Grit-lit. An avid fan of the "queen of chick-lit with grit" Sarah Pekkanen, returns following (2015) Things You Won’t Say with another edge-of-your seat domestic suspense THE PERFECT NEIGHBORS with a mix of contemporary, suburban chick-noir, (dark side) mystery, lots of wit, wine, whine, scandal and intrigue. A Sure-Fire Hit! A modern twist of Wisteria Lane’s Desperate Housewives and Peyton Place, sprinkled with hilarious updates from Newport Cove Listserv Digest social media commentary! Everyone is trying to be the picture-perfect family. Halloween is a theme. Masking the real person. Telling yourself stories about people. Superficial details. Underneath - struggles and flaws. How far will you go to protect those you love? Do you really know your neighbors, and those who interact with your children? Welcome to Newport Cove, Parenting Magazine touts as one of the “20 Safest Communities” in the US. A peaceful, serene, and bucolic suburban neighborhood, where anyone would love to raise their family. From new McMansions, to original Tudors, Colonials, and Craftsmans, with street names of flowers. Meet the families:
Tessa and Harry Campbell: They are the newest addition to the neighborhood. The most intriguing and mysterious, especially Tessa. Everyone wants to know their story. Moving to escape a past, bad memories. Very private. Protective of children. Husband a software developer and travels often. They have a secret. An ongoing mystery. None of the neighbors know. Children: Daughter, Bree, nine. Son, Addison seven. Susan Barrett: Most impressive, outward appearances. Superwoman. Divorced. A perfectionist. A business woman. Owner of “Your Other Daughter”. Speaker, radio show. Business franchised into four states. Type A personality. Helps the elderly. Bakes. Loves to cook. Perfectionist. Ideal mother. She has regrets about her marriage. Ex-Husband, Randall is remarrying. She stalks them. His girlfriend (her former friend-Daphne). Obsession. Inside she is broken. She is drawn to her clients which have broken lives. She fixes others. Attempting to try and date again. Son: Cole. She has secrets. Kellie (2.0) and Jason: She married her high school sweetheart and has never been with another man. Her husband works with his family’s local Scott & Son Hardware Store. Close with the in-laws. She was a stay-at-home mom, and has now joined the work force. A real estate agent, now wearing heels, showing homes, and taking notice of her married broker, Miller Thompson. A dangerous attraction. She is getting attention. She is not looking at her husband like she does hotty Miller. Secret texts and flirts. Dangerous territory. From new clothes to secret lust. She has secrets. Children: Mia and Noah Gigi and Joe Kennedy: Joe is running for Congress plus working for an environmental company. High stress. Gigi likes to smoke pot. Zumba, Pilates, and a former activist. Likes alcohol. A bit of a Bohemian style. A wild past. Rebellious. Things she does not want uncovered. Struggling with media, lack of privacy, the campaign, scrutinized, and currently having issues with their 15 yr. old teen daughter, Melanie. Their 12 yr. old daughter, Julia was usually cooperative. Also dealing with Joe’s campaign manager, Zach who moves in downstairs. She has secrets. The women are close friends and love to get together for Whine and Wine night. The newest addition is Tessa, and they think she is a little standoffish. They are dying to get her drunk, so she will spill. The community manager Sharon sometimes joins them. Readers get tidbits of Tessa “before Newport Cove” mixed in with the sections from each woman. Pekkanen keeps readers in the dark, handing out clues as we move along with a series of events surrounding Tessa and her mysterious past. Tessa is the most mysterious, and my favorite character!
“You couldn’t outrun your past. It was like sprinting on a treadmill—as soon as your legs faltered, you’d discover you were in the precise place you’d, been trying so hard to escape.” “Moving to Newport Cove was nothing more than putting on a Halloween costume. Tessa had been swept up in the imagining, in the pretending to be someone else. But once the disguise was off, you no longer fooled anyone, least of all yourself.” “Tessa and Joe had opposite agendas. His was to stand out in people’s memories, to make an impression. Hers was the opposite: To blend in. To not be noticed. They were both campaigning.”
From the mystery dog pooper, mechanics, warnings, dry cleaning, mail, used cars, parties, headless Barbie, politics, complaints, (loved the Turbo Tax comment and unsubscribe). Bet the author had a blast writing this book. You will laugh out loud—witty, and humorous, and oh, so realistic! Loads of humor and razor-sharp insights will keep you turning pages into the night. Pekkanan fans will devour! Each of the women- desperately working through their domestic struggles and family life, while facing the secrets, crimes and mysteries hidden behind their doors. On the surface a perfect suburban idyllic neighborhood. Pekkanen once again delivers a winner! Not sure I have ever had to this happen-when looking back over the ten previous books I have read by Sarah- each one is a 5 Star! How many authors can write ten books (seven with 3 short stories-ebooks) and each be top rated? I knew she was a rock star, the first book I read back in 2010.
The Opposite of Me (2010), All Is Bright (Short Story E-book 2010),Skipping a Beat (2011), Love Accidentally (Short story e-book 2011), These Girls (2012), Beginning Again (Short Story e-book 2012), The Best of Us (2013), Catching Air (2014), Things You Won't Say (2015), The Perfect Neighbors (2016). From fears and anxieties of women, motherhood, marriage, and crossing over to the dark side with a bit of mystery, suspense, and impending danger. A suburban chick-noir! The idea that you can never really know your husband, partner, parent or neighbor- intriguing! I love the way my top three chick-lit authors, Sarah Pekkanen, Emily Giffin, and Jennifer Weiner have taken readers from women in their 20s, 30s, and now 40s. From single, dating, marriage, divorce, motherhood, and family. Fans of Paula Treick DeBoard’s The Drowning Girls (2016) will love the idyllic prestigious community and the scandalous secrets of the neighbors as well as Liane Moriarty’s Big Little Lies (2014). Would be a great movie! Or a DH remix comeback. While reading, I continued to imagine which Desperate Housewives’ (2004-2012) character related to each of the women in THE PERFECT NEIGHBORS. I had to double up, since DH sometimes had five women and we have four. Here is my take: • Kellie (Teri Hatcher-Susan Mayer). A romantic, married to plumber similar to hardware husband. Mix of a real estate agent (Edie Britt/Nicollette Sheridan). A little like Gabrielle Solis—Beautiful, heels, desiring attention-Wanting her cake and eat it too. • Tessa (Felicity Kendall Huffman- Lynette Scavo). Frazzled mom, control freak, walks on the edge, impulsive, husband takes orders. Devious. • Susan (Marcia Cross-Bree Van de Kamp) Totally Bree! Can do anything. Queen of the neighborhood. The perfectionist, cooking, business, and stalker. Whose perfection masks major dysfunction. • Gigi (Eva Longoria-Gabrielle Solis) Shady past, rebel, successful husband. Younger guy creating problems. In some ways she is also like Lynette Scavo with her pot. She also reminds me a little of (Edie Britt/Nicollette Sheridan). (Brenda Lee Strong-Mary Alice Young) DH narrator, would have a field day with Tessa’s character and her haunting past. Anyone want to weigh in with their vote? Would love to hear more. Note for publisher: PS. When it is time for the reprint, please put a dog on the cover somewhere. The dog poop commentary is priceless (a trademark)! I almost want to see an upscale gated community entrance with immaculate landscaping and a dog pooping in the corner. You MUST read this one! To learn Tessa's secret. Loved it. I hope we hear more from these colorful characters.
Better still. I see a new series here. Take a new neighborhood each book, three or four families, and keep the Listserv Digest coming!
A special thank you to Atria Books and NetGalley for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.
“Pekkanen deftly intertwines four stories into a tapestry depicting the frayed seams underlying small-town American domesticity. A mistress of women's fiction, Pekkanen transforms clichéd suburban troubles—from adolescent drama to infidelity—into a compelling, suspenseful tale.” (Kirkus Reviews) “A gossipy page-turner.”
(Glamour) “Pekkanen uncovers the hopes, heartbreaks, and indiscretions that lurk behind a community’s carefully maintained façade in this engrossing novel reminiscent of Liane Moriarty’s suburban-set mysteries. Women’s fiction star Pekkanen’s latest novel will be energetically promoted as the perfect summer read.”
(Booklist) “Tessa is the new mom on the block in this light mystery that peels off the smiling mask some women wear to face the world…Relatable characters round out a fun, fast read.”
(Good Housekeeping) "Relatable characters round out a fast, fun read." (Town & Country)
About the Author
Sarah Pekkanen is born in New York City, arriving so quickly that doctors have no time to give her mother painkillers. This is the last time Sarah ever arrives for anything earlier than expected. Her mother still harbors a slight grudge. Sarah’s family moves to Bethesda, Maryland, where Sarah, along with a co-author, writes a book entitled “Miscellaneous Tales and Poems.” Shockingly, publishers do not leap upon this literary masterpiece. Sarah sends a sternly-worded letter to publishers asking them to respond to her manuscript. Sarah no longer favors Raggedy Ann stationery, although she is sure it impressed top New York publishers. Read More