Perfectly Nice Neighbors

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Kia Abdullah’s brilliant and emotional Perfectly Nice Neighbors depicts the struggle of a Bangladeshi family who move into the largely white London suburb of Blenheim and experience turmoil with their neighbors. The matriarch of the family, Salma Khatun, is hopeful that the move will be good for their son Zain, who has had some issues at school in the past. Her husband Bil worries about the price tag of this new home in the wake of their recently closed restaurant, a casualty of the pandemic, on which they’re still paying the mortgage.

In the early days after they move to Blenheim, Salma sees her neighbor Tom purposefully remove a Black Lives Matter banner from her home. That incident sparks a series of back and forths that leads to an ugly confrontation and, eventually, someone is irrevocably hurt. While Tom’s initial action is the inciting incident for all that happens in the novel, Abdullah masterfully crafts the ways in which Salma escalates matters at times. The author seems not to place blame in any one place but rather asserts that the unwillingness to talk and listen to one another may be the fatal flaw of humanity.

I never saw the twists coming in Perfectly Nice Neighbors, and the journey of the protagonist was as compelling as anything I’ve read in the last several years; the book is definitely worth a read if you’re interested in issues of race or in the quiet ways we undermine one another when faced with our differences.

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Author Kia Abdullah
Star Count 5/5
Format Trade
Page Count 384 pages
Publisher Penguin Random House
Publish Date 12-Sep-2023
ISBN 9780593713815 Buy this Book
Issue October 2023
Category Mystery, Crime, Thriller