The Compulsive Reader: Dangerous Neighbors by Beth Kephart

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Dangerous Neighbors by Beth Kephart

Katherine is lost. She and her twin sister Anna used to be inseparable, so after Anna's death, she is determined to follow her. Katherine doesn't have much regard for her father who is kind and good but doesn't understand her, or her mother who has always been absent, taken away by her suffragist pursuits. And she certainly pays no attention to Bennett, Anna's beloved, and the one who stole her away from Katherine. So she is left to wander Pennsylvania and the marvels of the 1876 Centennial Fair, wishing for death, until one day and one event brings her life into perspective.

Dangerous Neighbors is a brief but affecting read that explores the grief a sibling can feel and realistically portrays one girl's thoughts of suicide, a subject infrequently addresses in the time period. Kephart alternates between scenes that detail Katherine's grief after Anna's death and moments in the months leading up to the event that depict the girls slowly drifting apart as Anna becomes more interested in her romance with baker boy Bennett and Katherine is left feeling abandoned. Though Kephart does go into some detail about the Centennial Fair and the exhibits, Katherine's emotions and her heavy feelings of anger, guilt, and resentment dominate the book and almost bog it down in some areas, and the climax in which she decides to live wasn't so very memorable. However, Kephart gives readers a hopeful ending, with many possibilities in Katherine's future, including a friend and perhaps the means to understand her sister and her actions. Dangerous Neighbors is an interesting and quick read, full of heart and feeling.

Cover Comments: I like the pretty light blue of the cover a lot, and the broken egg and red font of the title is a very neat effect--subtly sinister. It doesn't quite fit the book, but I like it.

ARC received from publisher.

Dangerous Neighbors is available now.

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