Synopses & Reviews
Read Peter Lovenheim's posts on the Penguin Blog.
Based on a popular New York Times Op-Ed piece, this is the quirky, heartfelt account of one man's quest to meet his neighbors-and find a sense of community.
Journalist and author Peter Lovenheim has lived on the same street in suburban Rochester, NY, most of his life. But it was only after a brutal murder-suicide rocked the community that he was struck by a fact of modern life in this comfortable enclave: no one knew anyone else.
Thus begins Peter's search to meet and get to know his neighbors. An inquisitive person, he does more than just introduce himself. He asks, ever so politely, if he can sleep over.
In this smart, engaging, and deeply felt book, Lovenheim takes readers inside the homes, minds, and hearts of his neighbors and asks a thought-provoking question: do neighborhoods matter-and is something lost when we live among strangers?
"Social history reporting can get dull in the abstract; happily, journalist and family man Lovenheim (Portrait of a Burger as a Young Calf) makes a personal project of his investigation into the disappearance of community in suburban American, learning about the residents of his suburban Rochester, N.Y. street by sleeping over at their houses (his impetus was a murder-suicide on the street that helped reveal the extent to which his neighbors remained strangers). Throughout, Lovenheim's writing is genteel and elegantly detailed, revealing much about his subjects-issues of class, relationships, likes and gripes, obsessions and everyday struggles-that would be easy to miss in broad cultural assessments. His project also exposes the surprising variety of people in a neighborhood that seems, at first glance, a homogenous group of upper-middle-class professionals. Using the sleepover as an innovative sociological lens, Lovenheim provides a smart, from-the-front-lines update on Robert Putnam's suburban-alienation expose Bowling Alone, taking a personal look at what Americans tend to lose by 'going about their lives largely detached from those living around them.'" Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"After a tragic murder-suicide in his neighborhood, Lovenheim feels compelled to learn if closer relationships among neighbors might have saved a woman from death. The cultural study that follows is as much about sociology as it is about simple friendship as Lovenheim wonders why people can live side-by-side and know literally nothing about each other. He engages in long conversations both with those he has known (at least casually) for years and others he has never met. A retired doctor, harried realtor, workaholic consultant, pathologist, radiologist fighting cancer, dog walkers, and others allow him into their homes and, at least a little bit, their hearts. He meets families and pets and witness daily routines, asking repeatedly just what it is that makes a place a home, and a street more than merely an address. He reaches out and finds others also searching for connection and longing for what used to be. Lovenheim advances ideas about isolation in the modern world, and why a welcoming front porch is needed now more than ever."
-Colleen Mondor, Booklist
"The people Lovenheim meets have great backstories, and his life is enriched by his efforts. It's impossible to read this book without feeling the urge to knock on neighbors' doors."
"A disarmingly straightforward approach to its subject...Lovenheim does his modest best to create neighborly bonds where none existed, with quiet but real results."
-Washington Post Book World
"It is hard to read this book and not think of your own neighborhood, your own street. Who do you know? Everyone? Anyone? No one at all?"
-Minneapolis Star Tribune
"This book, so gentle and unassuming on the surface, is in fact deeply radical. If we all took its lessons to heart, our world would be a different, and better, place."
-Andrea Barrett, author of Ship Fever and The Air We Breathe
"The appeal of In the Neighborhood is hard to resist, and Lovenheim's interactions with his own neighbours are always interesting...."
-Winnipeg Free Press
"Lovenheim advances ideas about isolation in the modern world, and why a welcoming front porch is needed now more than ever."
"Mr. Lovenheim's 'neighborhood' is a place where no one knows anyone else-like so many neighborhoods today. In this warm and intimate book, he gets to know the strangers who are his neighbors and shows how a community can be transformed by the power of human connections."
-Marc Silver, author of Breast Cancer Husband
"In the Neighborhood is a big book in sheep's clothing: it insists on posing the boldest questions about our everyday American lives, but does so personably and mildly. We accompany this insistently wide-eyed author on a series of neighborhood sleepovers, and come face to face with our own insularity."
-Mark Kramer, co-editor of Telling True Stories and former director of the Nieman Program on Narrative Journalism at Harvard University
"This book will awaken your inner sociologist. In the Neighborhood is an inspirational reminder that for all our collective bemoaning about the loss of community, the solution is only a knock on the door away."
-Prof. Keith N Hampton, Annenberg School for Communication, University of Pennsylvania
In this engaging work, Lovenheim takes readers inside the homes, minds, and hearts of his neighbors and asks a thought-provoking question: Do neighborhoods matter--and is something lost when we live among strangers?
About the Author
Peter Lovenheim is a journalist whose articles and essays have appeared in the New York Times, USA Today, New York magazine, and other publications. He teaches writing at Rochester Institute of Technology and is also the author of Portrait of a Burger as a Young Calf, a firsthand attempt to understand the food chain, and other books. He lives in Brighton, New York, a suburb of Rochester.