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Looking over my Goodreads reviews the other day I realized I was a little too generous with my stars I will go ahead and put it out there that I am not a person who forces herself to slog through a book she hates So anything that makes it to a status of Read is good enough for me to finish, but that s not the same thing as really thinking it s a good book I read Yarbrough s new book in one night which I guess says something But it s probably the least favorite of his that I ve read, and theI thought about it, the less I liked it The only aspect I really enjoyed was the fact that it took place in Mississippi and made me a little homesick.From now on Five stars I loved it, might reread it one day, and would recommend it to anyoneor less without reservations.Four stars I liked it a lot It might be that it s the kind of book I particularly enjoy, but don t think are that great as works of art A compelling but non literary mystery maybe Would only recommend it to people who I know like books of the same type.Three stars probably wouldn t recommend it to anyone unless I knew they liked the author Good enough to finish, but either forgettable, or aggravatingly sloppy or badly constructed.One or two stars these will not be used in general, since I don t finish or rate books I don t like But maybe if it was a book club selection or otherwise required, it would get one or two. This is a very character driven novel with a minimal plot, which definitely breaks the usual mold of what I typically read and enjoy But this book has some important things to say on relationships, racism, family history, attitudes in the south and loyalty Specifically on the topic of racism, there are some really ignorant, bigoted people out there which is unfortunate but does that mean their entire lives are loathsome That they aren t multi dimensional human beings, capable of compassion and sacrifice I don t think so As Steve Yarbrough said this weekend when I heard him speak, I think if a person is 51% good, they re doin alright Just like the main character of this novel, Yarbrough is soft spoken yet eloquent Even though this book isn t plot heavy, it runs deep.Definitely recommend Especially on audio I just love that professorial southern drawl 3 My first book by Steve Yarbrough and he is fabulous Interesting subject about which, sadly, I am learning how much I do not know Civil rights Specifically an incident that occurred in 1962 on the campus at Oxford, Mississippi I never knew about the drama that erupted there over a boy trying to enroll in college The story goes back forth from current to the 1960s and includes racial violence as well as family drama marriages in crisis All told from the point of view of Luke May, a high school history teacher.I have at least twoSteve Yarbrough books queued I m looking forward to meeting him in person this spring Sadly I am on a bad book streak I hated the main character in this book He was a whining jerk The story seemed like it had some mystery a teacher tries to unravel a murder in the 1960s and a family that his dad doesn t want to talk about The mystery was slowly revealed, but it was not a mystery that was very interesting Just really hated this book wish that I had stopped wasting my time reading it But I am an optimist and kept hoping it would get better. I liked this book, but what kept me from giving it a higher rating was that it just sort of ended abruptly I was enjoying the story and the main characters, and then it just sort of ended It was well written but left me with questions. Yarbrough s novel depicts the intersection of public and private histories the things we struggle to forget and can t help but remember from our personal and collective past in his story of a history teacher who attempts to excavate his own troubled family s involvement in the brutal events of the civil rights era in Mississippi while succumbing to the siren song of childhood love and nostalgia An excellent novel. Really good until the end The vague ending was a disappointment. Luke May is a likable high school history teacher leading an unremarkable life in Loring, Mississippi, a small town with a dubious history Luke s marriage is at a dead end and his parents health is deteriorating, but his own love of local history and his realistic compassion and understanding for the townspeople keep him going Into this inertia steps Maggie Sorrentino, a glamorous French teacher with a mysterious and tragic past, which Luke eventually learns is closely tied to his own family s history His attempts to learnand unravel the events of a long past night lead Luke Maggie into an affair, whichas these things willeventually enmeshes farthan just the two lovers Publishers Weekly notes that Safe From the Neighbors is hobbled by the ordinariness of its characters and the situations they find themselves in I disagree with the use of hobbled The characters very ordinariness is what makes the story resonate No one is a hero, no one is entirely a villain The bombastic barbershop proprietor, the redneck members of Loring s Citizens Council, the overbearing, dismissive banker are all recognizable to anyone who has lived in a small farming town, particularly in the southern reaches of the US Luke s attempts to learnabout his fathera man farcomplex than his son ever suspectedalso ring clear and true I thoroughly enjoyed this book and highly recommend it as a thoughtful, considered read. When books have reviews by acclaimed authors like Richard Russo, John Grisham, Jill McCorkle, and Tom Perrotta, I always begin with a wary and careful eye Is it really going to be that good In this case, a resounding YES Yarbrough seems to be an undiscovered gem in our group of US southern writers Perhaps not, but I had never heard of him before This book has a well developed story, almost mystery, and carefully drawn characters And the dialogue is amazing I won t say anything else, discover it for yourself and enjoy the journey. ^Read E-pub ↱ Safe from the Neighbors ↜ Luke May Teaches Local History His Lifelong Obsession At His Old High School In Loring, Mississippi Having Been Mentored By His Hometown Newspaper S Publisher, A Survivor Of The Civil Rights Turmoil, He Now Passes These Stories Along To Students Far Too Young To Have Experienced Or, In Some Cases, Even Heard About ThemBut When A Long Lost Friend Suddenly Returns To Loring, Where Years Ago Her Family Had Been Shattered By An Act Of Spectacular Violence, Luke Begins To Realize That His Connection With Her Runs Deeper, Both Personally And Politically, Than He Ever Imagined Just Children In , They Had No Sense Of What Was Happening When James Meredith S Enrollment At Ole Miss Provoked A Bloody New Battle In The Old Civil War, Much Less Its Impact On Their Fathers Ambiguous FriendshipOnce His Daughters Leave For Ole Miss, And With His Marriage At An Impasse, Luke S Investigation Of This Decades Old Trauma Soon Spills Over Into His Own Life With His Parents Unwilling, Or Unable, To Help Him Unlock Secrets Whose Existence He D Never Suspected, This Amateur Historian Is Soon Entirely Consumed By An Obscure Past He Can Neither Explain Nor Control A Gripping Reminder That The Past Isn T Dead, Or Even Past Once Again Steve Yarbrough Powerfully Evokes As David Guterson Put It Not Only Historical Grief But The Grief Of Our Own Time