2 out of 4 stars
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The Neighbour at Number 18 by Hawa Crickmore is a fictitious read which covers a variety of topics people may encounter in life, many of which are controversial. The story line stems from the friendship formed by two single mothers (Brenda and Maureen), later revealing the lifestyles of their offspring, as well as other important characters, who in one way or another, connect back to the matriarchs. A primary person, Maria (Brenda’s daughter), is introduced as a young girl who is sexually manipulated by an older man, Tyler (Maureen’s nephew), on the pretext of prior perverted circumstances. Despite her troubled youth, Maria develops into quite a successful adult, earning a law degree during a time when women typically did not hold high caliber professions. Unfortunately, despite a profound career, a loving husband, and a family of her own, Maria can never seem to fully shake the abuse she endured as child which often reflects conflicting amorous feelings. Nevertheless, she manages to keep her past a secret. Not until she encounters a serious mental illness which could destroy all cognitive reasoning, Maria is faced with the reality that what she has disclosed for so many years may re-surface beyond her control.
This work, although not always pleasant to read due to contentious topics, did offer many intriguing aspects. I liked that the author was able to bring life to several different characters which were all linked by ancestry, as well as extenuating social taboos. Figuring out how one character influenced another kept me alert and in ongoing suspense, waiting for that “a ha” moment when the connection becomes apparent. Also, the chapter titles indicate meaningful hints as to what the contents will entail—a brief sentence about the subject, rather than just a numerical marker.
Consequently, I did not care for the way some characters were portrayed, given the fact that they may appear only by name with little to no background information. Others were named once, and never mentioned again. Additionally, the book frequently changes settings without warning/explanation. Considering this novel possessed a plethora of different personas, I often had to refer to the previous voice to comprehend the interchanging from past to present and which character had become the current focus.
Individuals that like dramatic fiction, especially when the circumstances may pertain to factual situations could find interest in this story, as well as those who like literature with numerous subplots. On the other hand, readers who are fond of the cliché “happy ending” may not appreciate this writer’s explicit conclusion. Youth, in general, may not relate to this novel’s contents—illegal sexual acts coupled with recurring profanity is better suited for an older audience.
I rate this book 2 out of 4 stars. Crickmore’s work falls nothing short of a well-encrypted “soap opera;” the entangled relationships of the characters and the drama that unfolds from past events make it an enjoyable read. However, I think extreme topics such as pedophilia are unpleasant and downright vulgar; I was uncomfortable reading parts of this text. Furthermore, I found the grammatical errors so overwhelming that my focus frequently shifted from reader to editor.
The Neigbour At Number 18 (Reload)
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