Twenty years ago, six Penn students shared a house, naively certain that their friendships would endure—until the death of their ringleader and dear friend Bea splintered the group for good. Now, mostly estranged from one another, the remaining five reluctantly gather at that same house on the eve of what would have been Bea’s fortieth birthday.

Their story began in 1998, and now, on the Fourth of July that would have been Bea’s fortieth birthday, they converge upon the house they once shared. The house that Bea had secretly bought, with the ultimate plan of bringing them all together again.

In Twenty Years was a story of friendships that unraveled, and how each of the five remaining friends struggled with their quests to find themselves.

Annie was probably the most insecure of them all, hoping to rise above her “trailer trash” past. Trying to attain a kind of perfection she imagined in the others would make her road rocky.

Lindy was brazen, in many ways. Loud, opinionated, and brash. She became a success in the movie business, but beneath it all is the hidden, and unrequited love from the past.

Catherine and Owen had been a couple back then…and still are. But there is a chasm growing between them. Catherine’s Domestic Goddess role in her company is falling down around her, and she fears that she will be exposed as a fraud. Owen, a stay-at-home dad, feels bored and worthless.

Then there is Colin, a successful LA plastic surgeon. He remains unattached…but why is he unable to commit?

Alternately narrated by the five characters, we get to see more of their struggles, and in each of their voices. We are also shown Bea’s voice, in the prologue, and in a letter at the end. There is a sense of her hovering presence throughout.

By the time we neared the end, however, I was bored with them and their narcissistic quests, as they bemoaned the choices they had made. Could they not realize how happy Bea would have been to live and make her own choices…and mistakes? I was glad to be done with them. However, in all fairness, the writing was great, the dialogue showcased how they interacted, and made me think that, despite their flaws, they were interesting people. 4 stars.

ratings worms 4-cropped***





Kellie Scott has finally gone back to work after years of being a stay-at-home mom. Her new career as a realtor offers the opportunity to enjoy the bucolic neighborhoods in the community, including her very own Newport Cove.

Viewing the homes and observing the people that inhabit them offers that something special to her new job, and so do the attentions of a handsome colleague. And what is the harm in a little flirtation?

Meanwhile, Susan Barrett enjoys running her own company, Your Other Daughter, a program which assists the elderly when they have no family around to provide routine support with everyday tasks. The work keeps her busy, she enjoys her time with her son Cole, but her heart is still broken from her divorce…and the betrayal of the woman who had been her friend.

Gigi and Joe Kennedy are another “perfect” family, under the glaring spotlight of a political campaign. Joe is running for Congress. But what happens when a power-hungry campaign manager intrudes into family matters in ways that make him impossible to keep around? Will Joe give up his political aspirations?

Finally, the newest neighbors seem a little more closed-off, their façade hard to penetrate. Are they really too good to fit in, or is there more to the story? Tessa and Harry Campbell might have a darker side than any of them can imagine.

The Perfect Neighbors was an interesting peek behind closed doors, as we gradually come to know each of the characters, including their flaws and secrets. Very slowly we learn, through flashbacks, the shocking secret that uprooted the Campbells and brought them to Newport Cove.

I liked the occasional excerpts in each chapter that showed the chatty repartee of the neighbors through their online newsletter, ListServ, the go-to place for newsy tidbits about events, about the rules regarding such ordinary things as how to properly deal with dog poop, and neighborly challenges and disagreements. These snippets added a light and humorous tone to the story.

When I reached the final page, I had a feeling that I really knew these individuals…and wanted to keep spending time with them. 4.5 stars.

***My e-ARC came from the publishers via NetGalley.