by Ania Ahlborn
(2012 Thomas & Mercer)
Have you ever wondered what it would do to someone to have been sexually abused by a parent, whether a male or female victim? Or how that experience would play out in the victim’s later life? Would such an abused person have a need to avenge the abuse by doing the same thing to others?
And what if such a child’s mother had been brutally murdered, raped, and left by the roadside to die like discarded garbage? Would that further enflame the need for revenge? And if the child’s abuser was a minister of the gospel, revered by his flock?
In The Neighbors, a fine young man, Andrew, needs to escape the clutches of a mother who is alcoholic and cannot leave her own home! A childhood friend invites him to come across town to share his house.
Andrew finds neighbors who are the picture of perfection. The lady of the neighboring house, Harlow, is akin to Joan Clever. She makes cookies, lunches, and dinners for Andrew. Her home and grounds are the picture of perfection. Unable to find work, Andy accepts an offer of Harlow’s husband, Red, to work in their perfect yard, painting trim that needs no paint, and mowing grass that is already ideal.
If you enjoy thinking through the type of questions noted above, and then reading a talented writer’s exploration of how such a life might play out, you will enjoy this flowing story. Ania Ahlborn spins a clever tale, with an ending that will remind you of how lucky we are sometimes, even when we think we need to escape the clutches of our own nightmare. The grass on the other side of the hill may be green and pictureseque. It may also have an entirely different character and taste. Of course, one never knows until venturing across the fence to taste for oneself.
I thoroughly enjoyed The Neighbors and so will you. In the end, the answer to the questions noted above is that the unfortunate victim would be deeply damaged by abuse at the hands of the person who is supposed to nurture, protect, and love.