Synopses & Reviews
Set against the backdrop of the deadly 2007 wildfires that forced the evacuation of half a million San Diego residents, Debra Ginsberg’s new novel, The Neighbors Are Watching,
examines the dark side of suburbia—a place where everyone has something to hide.
Aside from their annual block party, the neighbors on Fuller Court tend to keep to themselves—which doesn’t mean that they aren’t all watching and judging each other on the sly. So when pregnant teenager Diana Jones shows up, literally, on her biological father's doorstep, the neighbors can't stop talking. Joe Montana is a handsome restaurant manager who failed to tell his wife Allison that he fathered a baby with an ex-girlfriend seventeen years ago. Allison, already harboring her own inner resentments, takes the news very badly. She isn’t the only one. Diana's bombshell arrival in their quiet cul-de-sac sets off a chain reaction of secrets and lies that threaten to engulf the neighborhood along with the approaching flames from two huge wildfires fanned by the Santa Ana winds.
A former reality TV contestant who receives a steady stream of gentlemen callers at all hours, two women forced to hide their relationship in order to keep custody of their children, a sanctimonious housewife with a very checkered past, and a family who nobody ever sees—these are just a few of the warring neighbors struggling to keep up appearances and protect their own interests. But when lovely, troubled Diana disappears in the aftermath of the wildfire evacuation, leaving her newborn baby and many unanswered questions behind, the residents of Fuller Court must band together to find her before all of their carefully constructed deceptions come unraveled.
A potent blend of domestic drama and suspense, The Neighbors Are Watching reveals the secrets that bloom alongside manicured flowerbeds—and the truths that lurk behind closed doors.
"Ms. Ginsberg shows a remarkable capacity to inhabit the minds and motives of others.”—The New York Times
“A cross between Laura Lippman and Kate Atkinson, this novel is complex, original, and utterly intriguing. Will stay with you long after you've stopped turning the pages.”—Deborah Crombie, New York Times bestselling author of No Mark Upon Her
“A tense, twist-filled ride that knocked the breath out of me more than once….Part friendship, part rivalry, part cat-and-mouse game, the deepening bond between Darcy and Eden kept me guessing—and reading—far into the night.”—Marisa de los Santos, New York Times bestselling author of Falling Together
Whispers of the past…
When young Eden Harrison receives a heart transplant from an unknown donor, her seemingly charmed life falls apart. Haunted by dreams of people and places she doesn’t recognize, Eden is convinced that her new heart carries the memories of its original owner. Eden leaves her old life behind as she is mysteriously drawn to the city of San Diego.
Whispers of the mind…
There, Eden becomes fast friends with Darcy, a young woman recently widowed by Peter, her wealthy, much older husband. But Darcy is unsettled by her inability to mourn, and more unsettled by recurring thoughts of Adam, a young musician she was having an affair with--who has suddenly vanished.
Whispers of the heart…
Yet, the more Eden learns about Darcy, the more she realizes that all is not as it seems, and she begins to suspect foul play behind Peter's and Adam’s fates. As the tension around them escalates, Eden’s mysterious dreams become more and more frequent. Can Eden listen to what her heart is trying to tell her before it is silenced forever?
About the Author
is the author of Waiting
, Raising Blaze
, and About My Sisters
, as well as the novels Blind Submission
; The Grift
, a New York Times
Notable Book and winner of the the 2009 SCIBA T. Jefferson Parkers Mystery Award; and The Neighbors Are Watching
, an Indie Next Great Reads pick.
Reading Group Guide
THE NEIGHBORS ARE WATCHING
A novel by Debra Ginsberg
Reader’s Guide Discussion Questions
1. The Neighbors Are Watching is told from the multiple points of view of several neighbors who all have very different perspectives on the same series of events. Is there one neighbor who seems to have a more objective view than the rest? Why or why not?
2. Pregnant teenager Diana shows up on the doorstep of a father who has never met her and settles into a neighborhood that is not quite accepting of her. Who bears the most responsibility for what happens to her? Is it Joe? Allison? The entire neighborhood? Or perhaps just Diana herself?
3. Everybody on Fuller Court has a secret or something he or she is hiding. Whose secret is ultimately the most corrosive and/or does the most damage? Why?
4. Did Yvonne do the right thing by letting Diana go live at her father’s house? What would you have done in that situation?
5. In their quest to either help or hinder, several of the Fuller Court residents poke their noses into the business of their neighbors. On the other hand, just as many turn a blind eye to behavior or events they’d rather not think about. Where is the line between meddling and concern when it comes to our neighbors? When would it be necessary to interfere?
6. Who is the best mother in the novel? Who is the worst? Why?
7. Compare Joe and Dick as fathers. Which one is a better dad? Which one is a better husband?
8. Which character is the most honest with his or her neighbors? Which one is the most honest with him or herself?
9. Throughout the novel, Diana is seen and judged through many different pairs of eyes. Likewise, the stories she tells about herself are interpreted differently depending on who is listening. Who is the real Diana? Which of her stories are true?
10. For most of the novel, Joe’s main complaint—and justification for never acknowledging his daughter—is that he did not have a choice in whether or not to have a child, therefore he shouldn’t bear the responsibility of raising her. Do you agree with him? Why or why not?
11. Is the Fuller Court of the beginning of the novel a place you would want to live? How about at the end? Why or why not?
12. Is Fuller Court a place you recognize? Do you know any of these neighbors? Do you know what your neighbors are up to?