Lured with the affirmation of growing friendships, a family filled neighborhood, and a successful brewery; Clay Daniels uproots his wife, Leah Daniels, and twins, Zack and Zadie to Maine. Unfortunately for the Daniels, Maine is everything but what they’ve hoped for.
Stuck in an undeveloped neighborhood, Clay searches for happiness outside of his life and confines all his energy and love into his brewery. While Leah, haunted by the idea of playmates for her kids, friends for herself, and ignored by her husband, lets loneliness get the best of her. She begins to grow a strange obsession with her neighbor, Clarissa Gaines. However, the more she uncovers about Clarissa, the more she reveals about herself, her husband, and the rest of the secrets buried all around her that no one is ready to face again.
I’m not a harsh writer – especially when it comes to another author’s literary accomplishments. However, I can’t help but question the state of mind of this author as I read The Neighbor by Joseph Souza. This book is a psychological thriller told from the perspectives of Clay and Leah Daniels. It’s centered around the disappearance of Mycah, a college student activist and Leah’s strange obsession with her neighbor Clarissa. While this plot was promising in the first few chapters, it ended up being the opposite of a book I’d normally have high hopes for. It started off great. It was something I was drawn into and I was excited to uncover the same mystery that intrigued and entangled the main characters. However, the more I got to know the characters the harder it became to like the book and follow along with the plot. The Neighbor carried so much subplot, that ultimately the main plot got lost in all of the drama. Which made the book uninteresting and hard to read. The characters were very unlikable and the events in the book continuously snow balled into a mess of backstabbing, affairs, and murder.
“She needs intensive therapy if she’s to put her sisters death in the rear view mirror. But will that be enough to save our marriage?”– Joseph Souza
I was also disgusted reading the many “sexual” overly fetishized portions riddled in this novel, “I laugh, the wine making me bold and adventurous. I suddenly want to fulfill my marital duties to this wonderful man. “Would you like to make love to me Clay? Would you like me to pretend I’m your slave? A young girl that you trapped behind the barn one night and had your way with?” I giggle girlishly.” It wasn’t because the author was a white man and I’m a black woman – although maybe it was a small part of it – It was because of the many implications that these “sexual” segments meant. What they meant to me. The idea that any black woman would find these acts enjoyable or beg a white man to see her in such a notion was appalling. “She carried a whip in one hand, which she handed to me, I was at loss for words when she told me how she wanted me to do her. She leaned over the bed, exposing the caramel skin on her back. Then she ordered me to whip her… “You need to, governor. Treat me like the mouth slave you’ve always wanted to possess.”
“Here’s the sad irony. Mycah appeared to enjoy the rough sex. She couldn’t get enough of it. Name the sexual act and we did it. She encouraged -no ordered- me to smack her around.”– Joseph Souza
If we ignored the sexual component to the book (which is pretty hard to considering how disturbing it is), there are many other things off with this novel. The plot for intense, was everywhere, hard to follow, and often at times unpredictable, and unrealistic. It left me with more questions than answers (and not in a good way). There were so many things going on in this book at the same time. Leah and Clay’s marriage down fall, both Leah and Clay’s alcoholism, Clay and Leah ignoring the existence of their children, both of their children’s state of mind and development, Leah’s obsession with Clarissa, Clarissa and her husband’s existence in the novel in general, affairs, all the killings, Leah’s lost story line, oh and let’s not forget the point of the book, Mycah.
Although there were some strong points to this book, it all centered around the mystery of Mycah. However, her story line was one that went nowhere. The ending, just like the entirety of this book, was disappointing. Leah, indulges in her self destructive ways, while everyone around her indulged in their own versions as well. The plot is mingled and many of the mystery’s that could’ve lead to an amazing book, resulted in a horrid one. I haven’t read a book in awhile that made me question the mind state of a writer. I also haven’t read Joseph Souza other books, but if there’re anything like this one – I’m starring clear of them.
Josie M. Hulen
Josie Monet Hulen is a writer with a Bachelors degree in literature. She’s passionate about the written word and often spends her time with her nose in a book or in the middle of writing one. Her hunger for knowledge and determination to learn, landed her a job as an office manager. She has also been an intern for 9 months with an online publishing company and works part time as a freelance writer. Josie one day hopes to be an inspiring writer.