I am going to break from my usual review format for this book as I have mixed emotions about this particular story. As a writer and editor, I have no issue with the style or delivery of this story. The author is an excellent writer and the narrative is skillfully developed.
A dual storyline set in modern times and the height of the Civil Rights Movement, this book tells the story of two women, linked by an unspeakable tragedy. And while the main characters are well developed, I couldn’t help but feel this book relies heavily on the “white savior” trope.
What is the white savior trope?
This video explains it very well.
There are many elements of true history from the Civil Right movements included in this story. Some of which I didn’t know about and this book did prompt me to go and do some further reading.
That being said, the storyline focuses on the struggles of Ellie, a white college student, who goes against her family, her friends, and her town to take a stand against racism. Noble to be sure, and while the struggles of those she was seeking to help are mentioned, it felt topical and presented only as a way to create more drama and conflict for Ellie.
And while this book doesn’t have the typical “white savior” happy ending, I felt uncomfortable and honestly, a little jaded that the story didn’t dig in deeper. I can’t help but think that this would have been a much better story if it had been told from a POC’s point of view.
I imagine the author had good intent, but I think this fell a little flat in purpose.
Genre: Mystery, Women’s Fiction
Release Date: 11 January 2022
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.