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Monday, November 5, 2012

Audiobook Review: Thy Neighbor by Norah Vincent

TITLE: Thy Neighbor
AUTHOR: Norah Vincent 
NARRATOR: Edoardo Ballerini 
PUBLISHER: Penguin Audio
PUBLICATION DATE: August 2, 2012
FORMAT: Unabridged audiobook, 12 hrs and 29 mins
GENRE: Psychological Thriller
ISBN: 9781101564295
From the New York Times best-selling author comes a first novel as spellbinding as her acclaimed nonfiction.

At 34, Nick Walsh is a broken, deeply cynical man. Since the violent deaths of his parents 13 years earlier, he has been living alone in his childhood home in the suburban Midwest, drinking, drugging, and debauching himself into oblivion. A measure of solace is provided by his newly found relationship with Monica, a mysterious woman who seems to harbor as many secrets as he does.

Obsessed with understanding the circumstances surrounding his parents' deaths and deranged by his relentless sorrow, Nick begins a campaign of spying on his neighbors via hidden cameras and microphones he has covertly installed in their houses. As he observes with amusement and disbelief all the strange, sad, and terrifying things that his neighbors do to themselves and to one another, and as he, in turn, learns that he is being stalked, he begins to slowly unravel the shocking truth about how and why his parents died.

At once unsettling and moving, humorous and horrifying, Thy Neighbor explores the nature of grief, the potential isolation of suburban life, and who we really are when we think no one is watching. What readers and critics have admired in Norah Vincent's nonfiction is completely unleashed in this vivid and provocative novel.


I received this audiobook from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. I did not receive any compensation for my review, and the views expressed herein are my own. 

Thy Neighbor is gritty and dark; not for the faint of heart.

Nick Walsh is seriously messed up. I suppose it is hard to blame him when his upbringing, or lack of it, was so bad. His highly intelligent mother tried to stimulate Nick’s mind as a child, but he simply wasn’t intellectually gifted like his mother. She ended up drowning her sorrows in booze, and then her interest turned to the neighbour’s grand-daughter, Robin, who Mrs. Walsh observed was reading Dante’s Inferno at the tender age of 11. Robin wasn’t reading for show. Mrs. Walsh was astounded that the young girl was actually getting it! While Mrs. Walsh was busy cultivating Robin’s young mind and turning Robin into her protégé, Mr. Walsh did little to pick up the slack in the parenting department. Nick ached to be loved and cherished, and he even went to far as to ask his father if he loved him and his father did nothing to assuage his son’s insecurities. My heart broke for poor Nick! For a child not to know and feel a parent’s love without question is truly heart-breaking! For reasons unknown to Nick, his father kills his mother and then turns the gun on himself: A murder-suicide. All Nick has left of his broken childhood are the memories in that house and unanswered questions as to what went wrong.

The story begins with Nick as an adult, who works from home writing book reviews. He is a binge-drinker, and he sleeps most days away while going on benders most nights. He is also addicted to pills, and he takes uppers to get him going and downers to get him to sleep. In an effort to search for clues as to what happened in his past, he begins to spy on his neighbours to see what goes on behind closed doors. His drug dealer puts him in touch with someone who works as a television cable service repairman, who can be hired to do inside jobs. Nick pays for this repairman to put cameras in the homes of his neighbours, and Nick has a set-up in his basement to watch all the goings-on unfold before his eyes. What Nick witnesses is shocking, and he discovers that he isn’t the only one with skeletons in his closet.

This is Vincent's fiction debut, and I enjoyed the story in all its raw detail. Nick is such a tortured soul, and I wanted so badly for him to find his peace. The ending is shocking and horrible, yet satisfying.

The narrator, Edoardo Ballerini, is phenomenal! His portrayal of Nick was incredible. He captured Nick’s anger, his rage, his angst, his pain, and his torment. Had I read this book instead of listening, I believe that I would have been put off and repulsed by Nick. However, Ballerini is so good at drawing the reader into Nick’s world and expressing his emotions that I could not help but feel sympathy and pity for him.

4 stars!! It was really good! You should put it on your "To Be Read" list. Thanks to Penguin Audio for the opportunity to review this audiobook!

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