THE NEW NEIGHBOR by Leah Stewart

download-2Another book that I was glad to finish, and don’t want to spend a lot of time reviewing…

The New Neighbor by Leah Stewart is (presumably) a psychological thriller about two women living in a small Tennessee town who are each hiding secrets. Jennifer Young and her 4 year-old son Milo move into a small rental house on a pond, where Jennifer wants to hide away from the world after the death of her husband. Her neighbor across the pond, 90 year-old Margaret Riley, becomes intensely interested in Jennifer and devotes her time to finding ways to get to know her.

Margaret, too, is mysterious – she never married, and is carrying some long buried secrets from her years as a nurse on the battlefield in World War II. She is intensely lonely, yet also equally unlikable, which makes it very hard for others to get close to her.

Margaret and Jennifer’s worlds intersect when Margaret hires Jennifer as a massage therapist as a way to get her into house on a regular basis. This develops into Jennifer helping write down Margaret’s memoir, a plot device that allows Margaret to tell her stories and Jennifer to react in ways that reveal more about herself. Meanwhile, Jennifer tries to make friends and build a life for herself and Milo without revealing anything about the circumstances of her husband’s death.

The Suspenseful Questions We Are Supposed To Want Answers To:

  1. Was Jennifer responsible for her husband’s death?
  2. What happened to her daughter?
  3. Is Margaret gay, and was she in love with her best friend (a fellow nurse)?
  4. Was Margaret responsible for her best friend’s death?
  5. Will Margaret tell anyone about Jennifer’s past?

In the end: a big meh from me. I invested way too much time into this book and ultimately didn’t really care about the characters or what happened. Stewart is a good writer, and I particularly liked her use of details and observations throughout. But there was just too much of both, and not enough suspense. I look back on 288 slow pages and think to myself, “What was the point?” No major bombshells, and a very unsatisfying ending that made me dislike both women more.

I’d skip this one.