The Good Neighbor Review
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Little white lies may seem harmless. They may get you out of trouble with your boss or keep your kids from eating too much candy. But, as books and movies are often quick to point out, little white lies can get you into some serious hot water—as they do for the main character in author Amy Sue Nathan’s The Good Neighbor.

The story begins as Izzy Lane is reluctantly settling into her new life as a divorced single mom, living with her five-year-old son, Noah, in her childhood home in Philadelphia. When her ex, Bruce, loses his job and decides to travel to California to find himself, Izzy loses her co-parent—and his child support checks. Help comes from her best friend, Jade, who runs a popular local website. Jade hires Izzy to blog about her life as a divorced mom—and her relationship with her new boyfriend, Mac. The only problem: Mac doesn’t exist—and Izzy is afraid to tell Jade the truth.

The Good Neighbor is a story built on secrets and lies—and not just for the main character. Most of the characters, it seems, are hiding some deep, dark secret—from Izzy’s cousin, Rachel, to her sweet, octogenarian neighbor, Mrs. Feldman. But the fact that everybody’s doing it doesn’t really help the story feel any more original.

Izzy’s lie isn’t exactly earth-shattering—especially when you consider that people rarely tell the whole truth online. She simply creates an imaginary boyfriend to help her feel better about her ex’s new girlfriend—and she writes about it on her personal blog. There’s really no reason to hide the truth from her closest friends, who have stood by her through all of the ups and downs of life. But, instead of coming clean to the people who love her, she carries on, trying to downplay the relationship and shift her new blog’s focus instead of fixing it all with a quick and simple fake breakup. And, as her neighbor predicts, it eventually snowballs out of control.

Izzy’s behavior, meanwhile, often feels unnatural. Her feelings for her deadbeat ex are never entirely certain—whether she really wants him back or she just wants his child support checks. But while she’s indecisive about her ex, she’s perfectly decisive about her irrational loathing of her friend’s new investor—a handsome single dad who occasionally hints that he’s interested in her, no matter how rude she may be to him.

Fortunately, there’s still something lovable about the characters—from the hard-working single mom and her sweet little boy to Izzy’s elderly confidant, Mrs. Feldman. But while the likable characters may give the story a little bit of personality, that’s not enough to elevate this novel far beyond the typical chick lit clichés.

At its heart, The Good Neighbor offers readers an important message about being true to yourself and taking charge of your life. But the story gets so caught up in secrets, lies, and all-too-predictable formulas that it fails to live up to its potential.

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