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The Good Neighbor: A Novel by Amy Sue Nathan

The Good Neighbor: A Novel (2015)

by Amy Sue Nathan

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Recently divorced, Izzy finds herself right back where she started -- literally, she's living in the house she grew up in (her parents have moved on to retirement), struggling to take care of her young son Noah, and dealing with the fact that her ex, Bruce, is dating again. A school counselor by day, Izzy finds solace in blogging about her woes and dating life online at night. But when she starts writing about an imaginary boyfriend, "Mac," to make herself feel better about Bruce's new girlfriend, things go south quickly, especially when Izzy's blog takes off after her friend hires her to write for her up and coming "Philly Over 40" site. The only person Izzy can confide in is her next door neighbor, Mrs. Feldman, but her sweet 80-something neighbor may have a few secrets of her own.

I must confess, I almost gave up on this book in the beginning. It just seemed to start slowly for me. There is a lot of hand wringing from Izzy about her life and her blog. Eventually things take off and the plot gets more exciting. My biggest issue is that, in many ways, Izzy's fabrication of "Mac" doesn't really seem to be the huge deal that she makes it out to be. Sure, she shouldn't be lying to everyone, but really, her lie is going to supposedly bring down her friends' business, destroy all her friendships, and ruin Izzy's life? It is just a blog after all. Some of that just seems to be a stretch. Compare to the heartwarming and heartbreaking storyline with Mrs. Feldman -- it truly can't compare.

However, because I'm a total sucker, I kept imagining this movie as a romantic comedy or sitcom. I was sort of tense reading this novel, because you knew eventually the lie would be revealed, everything would get crazy, and all would be for naught... but you hoped like any "good" romantic comedy or sitcom, it would still tie up pretty neatly with a bow at the end, right? (And I won't lie, I sort of like that sometimes. There's enough uncertainty in real life.)

(Note: I received an advanced copy of this book via Netgalley in return for an unbiased review.) ( )
  justacatandabook | Mar 9, 2016 |
The Good Neighbor by Amy Sue Nathan is a novel about how secrets can cause harm. Elizabeth “Izzy” Lane is thirty-nine and divorced. Her husband, Bruce Silverstein decided he needed to find himself (typical). Izzy and her son, Noah (five years old) have moved back into her family home. She has taken over the mortgage from her parents and they have moved to Margate. The day her husband left, Izzy started a blog called The Bizzy Blog (she did not want to use her real name). Izzy gives advice and tells stories about dating (Izzy is a school guidance counselor during the day). It has become very popular and now her friend, Jade wants Izzy to write for her Pop Philly site. Izzy would write Philly over 40 (even though she is only 39). Izzy agrees to write the column because she needs the money on the condition that she remain anonymous. Bruce has decided to go to California with his girlfriend, Amber. Bruce has lost his job and cannot continue his financial obligations to his son (he is a real gem).

The one thing that Izzy fails to mention is that some of the information in her blog is fiction. She has been writing about dating Mac. Mac is a fictional boyfriend. Will Izzy be able to keep up her lie and who is she going to hurt in the process (you just know that this is not going to end well). I found this to be a mediocre novel. It is okay, but very silly and bland (like food with salt, pepper, and spices). The characters lack depth. The most interesting character is the elderly neighbor, Geraldine. I give The Good Neighbor 3 out of 5 stars (for okay). This novel was lacking in depth and humor. It could have been a funny novel, but it missed the mark.

I received a complimentary copy of The Good Neighbor from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. ( )
  Kris_Anderson | Oct 14, 2015 |
A special thank you to St. Martin's Press and NetGalley for an ARC in exchange for an honest review. Love the Cover!

Talented Amy Sue Nathan returns after her winning debut, The Glass Wives , with her latest contemporary, THE GOOD NEIGHBOR --filled with humor, friendship, and life’s complications.

Izzy Lane is going through a rough patch. She has been dumped by Bruce, her husband, and as a single mom, she decides to move back to Philadelphia, to the home where she grew up, after her parents have moved. Along with her five year-old son, Noah-- she works as a high school counselor, where she is determined to live a normal life.

She has a few friends (Jade and Rachel), to help along the way and support her through her time of need, and the funny elderly neighbor, Mrs. Feldman. Then her ex-husband shows up with his girlfriend. Izzy comes up with a plan and decides to invent a boyfriend of her own. (all ex-wives do this). However, it gets quite complicated to keep up the charade and the lies.

Izzy comes up with this idea of blogging. Her new love interest, with her free nights when her son is asleep, she is in another world online. What she does not expect is how popular her blog will turn out to be. Soon she is the online dating expert. We have a Dear Abbey on our hands.

Of course her friends want to meet the mysterious Mac, and some think she is a fake. She begins to worry what she has gotten herself into. Then her neighbor gets involved, and she is in a real pickle.

A witty heartwarming story, of secrets, lies, betrayal, friendship -- and the desperate attempts for second chances. As with her first book, Nathan tackles real issues in non-traditional families (been there, so can relate)….she uses contemporary topics and humor mixed in with lots of obstacles along the way, making her books relatable, by women in today’s world.

I liked the idea of the different age groups of women. As I get older, the 80 something crowd fascinates me. In my hi-rise, there are many older single women--they are always lots of fun with some great stories of the past! Mrs. Feldman was my favorite character with some stories of her own - a nice addition! ( )
  JudithDCollins | Oct 4, 2015 |
When her husband leaves their marriage Izzy heads for a safe place with her son – that place is the house she grew up in. Renting from her parents she continues with parenting Noah, her job as a guidance counsellor and spending time with her friends while she tries to accept that her dreams for the future won’t come true…at least not as she once expected them to. As the book blurb mentions…she creates a fictitious beau who is perfect and then blogs about him lying to her ex, her friends and the cyberworld. From there her life snowballs into a tangled web of secrets and lies in which she feels trapped. How will she - or will she not reveal the truth about Mac? Will she listen to wise advice or ignore it? Will her husband be a flake or man up eventually? Will she find a way to move forward or remain stuck in the comfort of what is familiar? There is resolution for her, of sorts, by the end of the book and in the telling of this portion of Izzy’s life we have glimpses of her childhood, family, friends, neighbors, marriage and also the possible future she may one day embrace.

Words I wrote down while reading: secrets, lies, truth, friends, family, neighbors, trust, pain, healing…

Quotations that grabbed me:
“Secrets and lies change lives. And rarely in a good way.”
“Secrets and lies don’t protect you they strip you bare.”

This is a book that in some ways reminded me of a much tamer Sex in the City with a potential Mr. Big that might not fear commitment. Jade and Rachel are cousins so have been in one another’s lives for all of their lives and Jade came in when Izzy was in college and has been a bestie for at least 20 years. Each of the women has her own secrets but not all are gone into in depth - this is Izzy’s story.

This is a story of change, growth, pain and healing. It made me think and though I have never been in Izzy’s shoes I could identify with her feelings. I believe it is a book that will appeal to women who have gone through a breakup or divorce or have a friend that has been there at some point in time.

I liked this story…it didn’t grab me on the first page but I was definitely hooked before the end.

Thank you to NetGalley and St. Martin’s Press/St. Martin’s Griffin for the copy of this book to read and review. ( )
  CathyGeha | Sep 15, 2015 |
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You can never go home again, but the truth is you can never leave home, so it's all right.  ---MAYA ANGELOU
For Zachary and Chloe, my superheroes. I love watching you fly.
In memory of Souder Street.
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The door bell rang and I knew it was my ex, just like when my lip tingled and I knew it was a cold sore.
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"Izzy Lane never thought of herself as a liar. In fact, she's always played by the rules. She's an excellent mother, has loyal friends, and a rich career as a school counselor. Fresh from a new divorce, however, Izzy feels like she needs a little fun. So when, on a whim, she starts a blog it seems like a rather benign indulgence. But as her online quips begin to gain traction, Izzy makes a slip. Somehow a new boyfriend winds his way into the picture. The problem? Izzy makes him up. What, at first, feels like a harmless fib quickly spins out of control and Izzy must figure out how to balance fantasy and reality. Keeping up appearances while managing an absent ex-husband, two very nosy friends, a toddler son, and full-time job soon prove impossible, and Izzy feels utterly lost. It's only when her long-time neighbor and surrogate mother, Mrs. Feldman, re-enters her life that Izzy begins to see the mess she's made. And it's with Mrs. Feldman's guidance that Izzy learns to face reality, find comfort in new norms, and open herself up to the possibility of real love. "--… (more)

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