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Dangerous Neighbors by Beth Kephart

Beth Kephart‘s Dangerous Neighbors, which hits stores on August 24, is set in 1876 in Philadelphia on the verge of the 100th anniversary of the birth of the United States as two sisters, twins, struggle with changes in their relationship and find the ability to fly on their own.

Katherine and Anna may be twins, but they are very different with Anna considered the beauty and adventurous one and Katherine as the dependable protector.  As adolescence hits and Anna falls in love with the baker’s son, Bennett, the relationship between the girls changes, forcing Katherine to make tough choices and keep secrets.  Anna is like the Schuylkill River near Philadelphia in that she winds her way through a society on the cusp of change and modernity.  She takes the plunge even though her love for the Bennett would be frowned upon by her family given his status in the city compared to that of her father, a banker.

“Nothing in this world is safe.  Clouds form.  Trees split.  Horses rear.  Ice breaks.  Fire rages.  Maybe the bird in that girl’s cage is better off, but then again, Katherine thinks, the cage could crack, the prison could itself perish, along with its prisoner.”  (Page 32 of ARC)

Dangerous Neighbors is told from Katherine’s point of view, which limits what the reader sees and hears from Anna’s perspective, but in this way, readers know the story is Katherine’s and not Anna’s.  Katherine must protect her wayward sister, or at least that’s the pressure she feels from her parents, particularly her father.  Their mother barely plays a role in their lives as she focuses all of her energy on the Centennial celebration and women’s rights.

While references are made to dangerous neighbors by her father and others in the book, readers will find that the true dangers lie in the decisions one makes about his or her own life and how those decisions can sometimes lead to unexpected tragedy.  Dangerous Neighbors is a young adult novel dealing with very adult themes of family, growing up, and moving past grief. Kephart’s attention to historical and descriptive detail will transport readers back in time, while tugging them along emotionally and with some suspense as Katherine unravels her tragic story.  Another delightful novel from Kephart, though readers may wish to see more of the mysterious William, who rescues Katherine from herself.

***I received my signed ARC of Dangerous Neighbors by Beth Kephart from Book Expo America.***