Review: Dangerous Neighbors by Beth Kephart

Title: Dangerous Neighbors
Author: Beth Kephart
Publisher: EgmontUSA
Pub. Date: 8.24.2010
Genre: Historical YA
Keywords: Sisters, Twins, Grief, Regret, Love
Pages: 192
Description (from GoodReads):
Could any two sisters be more tightly bound together than the twins, Katherine and Anna? Yet love and fate intervene to tear them apart. Katherine’s guilt and sense of betrayal leaves her longing for death, until a surprise encounter and another near catastrophe rescue her from a tragic end. Set against the magical kaleidoscope of the Philadelphia Centennial fair of 1876, National Book Award nominee Beth Kephart’s book conjures the sweep and scope of a moment in history in which the glowing future of a nation is on display to the disillusioned gaze of a girl who has determined that she no longer has a future. The tale is a pulse by pulse portrait of a young heroine’s crisis of faith and salvation in the face of unbearable loss.

At times, when I’m reading one of Beth Kephart’s novels, I find myself distracted by the gorgeous phrasing and richly described settings and characters. It’s easy to find oneself swept away by the beautiful writing, but I always remind myself to go beyond that aspect Kephart’s novels because the writing isn’t meant to distract readers from a mediocre tale: Kephart is a thought-provoking storyteller as well.

DANGEROUS NEIGHBORS is a slim volume, but the I felt Katherine and Anna’s story fit well within its covers. This novel is not for readers who favor action and a quickly paced story. At all. The story begins slowly and continues at a leisurely pace, meandering between past and present.

I found Katherine’s relationship with her sister, Anna, and her father interesting. There isn’t very much dialogue in the novel, but each interaction holds weight and meaning and I found myself analyzing the words exchanged and considering how Katherine would have reacted and felt. The flashbacks, to me, held the most meaning, as they were the only time readers are able to observe Katherine and Anna’s interaction. I couldn’t help imagining Katherine collecting these memories like a crow collects shiny baubles, though many of the memories lacked the luster of happiness.

Kephart tells her characters’ stories with a delicate hand and deposits them carefully into the reader’s heart. DANGEROUS NEIGHBORS, with it’s beautiful language and acute heartache, is no exception.

Grade: B+

Cover Comments:
This cover is perfect for DANGEROUS NEIGHBORS. The colors and image both convey the delicate subject matter and writing.

Review copy provided by EgmontUSA.
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