Filled with vivid detail that artfully brings the past to life, National Book Award nominee Beth Kepart's DANGEROUS NEIGHBORS is a timeless and finely crafted novel about betrayal and guilt, hope and despair, love, loss, and new beginnings.
A Tale of Two Sisters
Originally I was just going to tell you exactly what the author, Beth Kephart, tells you about Dangerous Neighbors: It is 1876, the height of the Centennial Exhibition in Philadelphia. Katherine has lost her twin sister, Anna, and though it was an accident, Katherine remains convinced that Annas death was her fault. One wickedly hot September day, Katherine sets out for the exhibition grounds to cut short the life she is no longer willing to live. This is the story of what happens. But that would leave out a lot because Dangerous Neighbors is about more than feeling the loss of a sister. It is about sisters, especially twin sisters, and how they are a part of each other. It is about the inevitable maturing and ultimate growing apart of siblings. It is about the world in 1876 and one parents fight for equality. It is about having someone to care for and how that spark of caring can change everything.
As I told someone, while I was reading Dangerous Neighbors I had a dilemma. I wanted to read the book quickly because I found the story engrossing. I also wanted to read it slowly so that I could savor Kepharts words. Every page has phrasing that I wish I could write, such as The organ doesnt sing, it exhalesfilling the volume of the Main Exhibition Hall with elaborate moans and peeps or Their father has sent them off with George, his favorite hansom driver, and with a dark horse named Hank who blows dragon steam through his nostrils. Blows dragon steam through his nostrils. Wow!!!!! Kephart enables you to visualize everything from the flight of a bird to flour dust emanating from a bakery.
The 1876 Exhibition is the setting for Dangerous Neighbors and the story certainly peaked my curiosity about that event. But it is a timeless story which could take place in any locale. The characters are wonderful: Bennett who is Annas love interest, William who rescues animals and sparks something in Katherine, Anna, Katherine herself who feels responsible for her younger twin, and their parents, each caught up in their own world. The story, as I said, is engrossing. It is a story of hope. The emotions are strong: Anna and Bennetts love, and Katherines sense of responsibility and loss and confusion.
Ms. Kephart says that Dangerous Neighbors is a cross-over book that will appeal to teens and their parents. I agree. So get a copy for yourself and a copy for your parent and read it together, sitting side by side on the settee. I can only reiterate what Ive said before: Beth Kephart is a marvelous author and one whose books you can count on for containing some of the finest use of language youll encounter. Read my reviews on this website of House of Dance, Nothing But Ghosts and Undercover.
I went into this book not expecting an amazing story, but an enjoyable one and I got that plus some. This little book was an intriguing, short read that I have been in the mood for in the past few days. While nothing special it was a sweet story of sisterly love and all the trials it goes through, especially when their is a boy involved. I only wished it were longer, though I was in the mood for a short book, I think Dangerous Neighbors would have been amazing if it were longer. It had a lot of places it could have gone and where it could have expanded more, which I would have liked to have read.