Thursday, September 16, 2010

Book Review Dangerous Neighbors by Beth Kephart

Dangerous Neighbors by Beth Kephart
Publisher: EgmontUSA
Publication date: August 2010
ISBN: 9781606840801

Source: ARC provided by publicist

Dangerous Neighbors 

During the World's Fair in Philadelphia in 1876, Katherine must come to terms with the loss of her twin sister Anna.  She struggles to understand why Anna is gone and her part in the loss of her sister.  Surrounded by the people who came to Philadelphia for the fair and by cultures from around the world represented there, we get a very individual and human story of one young woman remembering the times she had with Anna and deciding if she wants to live life without her. 

Things I Liked:
Lovely, lovely writing.  This is my second taste of Beth Kephart, and I have to admit she has a way with words.  The writing isn't what you'd call flowery, showy or gripping, but it has a quiet power that draws you into the heart and soul of her characters.  I loved the setting, a time and place that I haven't read a lot about.  But, I especially loved Anna and Katherine.  They are what make this story tick.  The memories of the heartbreak and joy that both come from the same relationship.  A touching story.  Some lovely quotes:

The bird has gone off on some tune.  Short, unsustained notes - more like questions than songs.  The rustling of its feathers is like the sound of a hand cupped to an ear - that space between the hand and the ear, where the heartbeat echoes. p 38-39 of ARC
High above is the crystal chandelier, and Anna won't take her eyes off it; in Anna's eyes it shines.  It's like the icicles that form on the edge of a roof when the sun gets trapped inside - a cascade of ice and sun. 
"Like sitting inside a jewelry box," Anna whispers, and Katherine nods. p 158 of ARC
Things I Didn't Like:
I found that I was less interested in the present parts of the story, at least initially.  I loved far more the flashbacks Katherine experiences, her memories of Anna.  When she was in the present, things were so much more foggy.  I think that might have been intentional, since she was trying to deal with the guilt and sorrow and it was clouding her sight.  However, I got confused and even a bit bored with those parts.  But, taken as a whole, I really enjoyed this book!

The Sky is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson

Nothing But Ghosts by Beth Kephart

s-factor: none
that I recall...

mrg-factor: X
a very little implied

v-factor: ->
some scary situations, nothing graphically violent

Overall rating: ****

The Hidden Treasures idea for a BBAW post is perfect for this review.  I know Kephart's books have been under the radar for many, though the efforts of Amy from My Friend Amy and Nicole from Linus' Blanket have helped a lot. I know they are the reasons I picked up my first Kephart and why I agreed to read this one as well. She could certainly use more attention, and I think deserves it, if only for the sheer beauty of her writing!

And I would be remiss in my Hidden Treasure duties if I didn't also mention an absolute favorite classic book that I think I have yet to meet a book blogger who's read it! This beautiful book is Precious Bane by Mary Webb, which I posted a review of a long time ago. This book impacted me so much when I read it, possibly because it was a gift from my sister-in-law during a time when I was recovering from a (seemingly) broken heart. I was definitely mopey, sad, and feeling ugly. This book reminded me what beauty is and to look for it in everyone. If you can get through the colloquial language of the book (which is probably the hardest thing people find when reading it), then it is bright and sparkling and so lovely. If you have the time and patience, do try it and then come back and let's talk about it. Ok, end of raving.

What is your Hidden Treasure?

If you buy through my Amazon linkage, I will get a very small percentage


  1. I still need to read something by Beth Kephart. Although Amy and Nicole have certainly made me aware of her, too. :)

  2. She does have a way with words, doesn't she? I just adore her writing. Need to read this one, though.

  3. I haven't heard of Precious Bane, I'll have to check it out. Thanks!

  4. Michelle, they've done an impressive amount of influencing with Beth's work, haven't they?

    Melissa, I really do enjoy her style a lot. I need to read more of her stuff.

    S. Krishna, I hope you enjoy it as much as I did!

  5. Amy and Nicole are fantastic! They were the one's who tipped me off to Beth's writing and I'm so glad they did, this was such a great book. I think it's so funny that we both managed to pick the same passage to quote! It really touched me. She's just such an amazing writer.

    Great review, I can definitely see what you mean about the slower points, they weren't too bad, but a little distracting.

  6. 1stdaughter, I've been meaning to listen to your That's How I Blog spot, but haven't gotten around to it yet. I should, so I can hear more of your thoughts on this one!


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