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Shattering Suburbia: "The Neighbors" Book Review

Essencejoy Evangelista |
November 27, 2012 | 12:48 p.m. PST

Staff Reporter

(Thomas and Mercer).
(Thomas and Mercer).
The latest novel from Ania Ahlborn focuses on protagonist Andrew Morrison, who lives a life filled with despair and affliction. Although Andrew grew up with the ideal family, his father later abandoned the family, leading Andrew’s mother to become an alcoholic who fails to appreciate the sacrifices he makes. But a new move into a house with a childhood friend may be the first step Andrew needs to take to change his life for the better, and this leads him to encounter the neighbors next door: the Wards.

Remember the movie Pleasantville? The film about the two teenagers from the nineties who are transported into a fifties-black-and-white TV show? Now think of George and Betty Parker, the doting and perfect parents of the show, except more sinister and much sexier. Red and Harlow Ward are the exceptionally dressed and well-mannered couple of 668 Magnolia Lane who portray the same fifties-esque vibe as the Parkers, but the Wards possess a darker secret, one that Andrew’s roommate, Mick Fitch, is deeply involved in.

Andrew admires the Ward’s home and life from the outside, desperately desiring to experience life from the inside of the house next door. He begins to idolize Harlow, as she fulfills everything that he has always lacked in his life: a caring woman. However, his obsession proves to be extremely unfounded, as Andrew later learns that perfection will always be an unattainable ideal, even in an idyllic lifestyle. People are human and thus, they will continue to make mistakes and harbor secrets despite the air of perfection that may surround them. 

Ahlborn has a keen eye for detail and through her narration, she transports you into Andrew’s world. Reading the novel is reminiscent of a vivid nightmare you wake up from: the imagery is so real, but it’s all in your imagination. The struggle the author addresses, replacing a void with the idea of a quaint and flawless home life, is very much real. The readers can relate to a character like Andrew, but maybe not to the extent of hopelessness that he has experienced. 

Ania Ahlborn is currently working on her third novel, The Shuddering, which will be released sometime next year. 

Reach Staff Reporter Essencejoy Evangelista here. Follow her on Twitter



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