Dangerous Neighbors: The Philadelphia Inquirer Review

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Sometimes angels appear in your life.  This has certainly been the case with Elizabeth Mosier.  To my great surprise and wonder, it is Elizabeth's review of Dangerous Neighbors that appears in the Philadelphia Inquirer today. I read these words and, literally, wept.  But mostly—mostly—it is how this review is written that takes my breath away.  Elizabeth Mosier explains this book better, and more beautifully, than I have ever been able to explain it myself.  She teaches and leads, in all that she does.

Teenagers can smell a fake, or a lesson, a mile away, so authenticity is key to persuading them to suspend their disbelief. In Dangerous Neighbors, Kephart's fifth book of young adult fiction, 1876 Philadelphia is rendered realistically in exquisite sensory detail: the flowers and foods and fabrics of the Centennial Exhibition, all the "noise and crush of progress" encroaching on a city once so quiet you could hear a runaway pig squeal in the street or a girl "flat-fingering" a Schubert piano piece.

This living history - the "unfinished pile of City Hall like a half-baked cake," the just-built Academy of Music, masted ships afloat on the Delaware - makes the old city new. But what makes Kephart's work feel true is its authentic adolescent sensibility, which she artfully conveys.

Here is 17-year-old Katherine's love for her twin sister, Anna, which sometimes seems like a battle unto death. Here, too, is Katherine's angry scrutiny of her unfashionable suffragette mother, who abandons home and hearth to fight for her daughters' futures. And here is romantic love as Anna experiences it: forbidden and dangerous, secretive and sweet (literally so, as Bennett the baker courts her with cranberry pie), a rebellion against her parents' matchmaking plans.

Kephart understands the trap and allure of being chosen - Anna is picked as the family's marriageable beauty, identical Katherine as their father's favorite - particularly for Katherine, a young woman who doesn't yet know who she is, whose future has vanished with her sister's death in a fast-changing Centennial world.

Read more: http://www.philly.com/philly/entertainment/literature/20101024_Girl_and_nation__coming_of_age.html#ixzz13GZi1ctU
Gratitude is an insufficient word.


Bibliophile By the Sea said...

Beth...so sorry about your Phillies:( My husband was very disappointed as he was guaranteed a ticket to the world series.

Have a great weekend!

Anna Lefler said...

Fantastic and much-deserved, Beth!




Sherry said...

I agree with you, Beth, Elizabeth describes the essence of Dangerous Neighbors wonderfully! I agree with you, Elizabeth, authentic is the word for every aspect of this novel.

Good historical fiction is hard to find. I love Dangerous Neighbors. It's historical fiction at its best.

Lilian Nattel said...

Congratulations, Beth! All entirely deserved.

Doug Gordon said...

Nice review. Hurrah for the old print media!

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