REVIEW: My last book for 2021 was The Last House on the Street by Diane Chamberlain. I finished it New Years Eve before I went to sleep which was before midnight. I’ve read one or two other books by her and really enjoyed them. This one was good but, I don’t think it had the wow factor and maybe the author intended it that way.
This book took place in two different time periods. One was in 1965 and one of the main characters was common to both time periods and stories. Her name was Ellie. Back in 1965 she was from an influential family in a small town in North Carolina. Her father was the Pharmacist in town and owned a drug store. Ellie wanted to volunteer with a group called SCOPE. It stood for Summer Community Organization and Political Education. Their purpose was to take racism out of politics. President Lyndon B. Johnson was suppose to sign the Voting Rights Bill Act which would allow folks to vote without passing a reading test among other things. Ellie wanted to volunteer to work in the black communities to educated and urge more blacks to register to vote. Her parents were against it because she would be canvassing and living in the poor black communities. The other time period was in 2010. Ellie has returned to her hometown to take care of her mother and her brother. The land around the home where she was raised has been sold off to a developer to build a new neighborhood. Kayla and her husband bought the lot at the end of the street to build their dream home. Strange things begin to happen to her family and home. Kayla eventually meets Ellie. The chapters of the two time periods rotate back and forth.
I like both time periods but, I think both of them fell a little short. Let me tell you why.
The time period of 1965 is one I remember well. I was almost 11 years old that summer. I remember moving from North Dakota to Florida a few years earlier. On that trip I remember the first signs that warned Negroes were not allowed to use white restrooms, drink out of the water fountains or eat in the restaurants. As a young child, I did not understand that and remembered asking my mother about it. Ellie had the same feelings I did. I think this was a great story but, would have been just as great on its own.
I felt the time period taking place in 2010 was trying to be Psychological Suspense. So many freaky things started happening to Kayla. I think this coulld have been a story developed into a novel of its own. I understand how they both tie into each other and it could have been an outstanding book. It was good but, I just think it fell a little flat. The 1965 era was an important one and frankly, I think we still have a long way to go. I think this book could have presented that in an easily digestible fashion. Diane Chamberlain has important things to say in this book but, stopped a little bit short.
I received a complimentary copy of this book from #StMartinsPress via #Netgalley. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.
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SYNOPSIS: A community’s past sins rise to the surface in New York Times bestselling author Diane Chamberlain’s The Last House on the Street when two women, a generation apart, find themselves bound by tragedy and an unsolved, decades-old mystery.
Growing up in the well-to-do town of Round Hill, North Carolina, Ellie Hockley was raised to be a certain type of proper Southern lady. Enrolled in college and all but engaged to a bank manager, Ellie isn’t as committed to her expected future as her family believes. She’s chosen to spend her summer break as a volunteer helping to register black voters. But as Ellie follows her ideals fighting for the civil rights of the marginalized, her scandalized parents scorn her efforts, and her neighbors reveal their prejudices. And when she loses her heart to a fellow volunteer, Ellie discovers the frightening true nature of the people living in Round Hill.
Architect Kayla Carter and her husband designed a beautiful house for themselves in Round Hill’s new development, Shadow Ridge Estates. It was supposed to be a home where they could raise their three-year-old daughter and grow old together. Instead, it’s the place where Kayla’s husband died in an accident—a fact known to a mysterious woman who warns Kayla against moving in. The woods and lake behind the property are reputed to be haunted, and the new home has been targeted by vandals leaving threatening notes. And Kayla’s neighbor Ellie Hockley is harboring long buried secrets about the dark history of the land where her house was built.
Two women. Two stories. Both on a collision course with the truth–no matter what that truth may bring to light–in Diane Chamberlain’s riveting, powerful novel about the search for justice.