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  • Mandy McHugh

The Mother Next Door, Tara Laskowski: A Review

I'm a sucker for suburban dramas with unlikable characters, so when I read the premise for this one, I was excited to get my hands on it. This is out in October, but I've had a string of serious, heavy reads and was looking for something a little lighter.

When Theresa's husband takes a new job and the family move to Ivy Woods Drive, she has no idea what she's in for. As the annual Halloween party approaches, Theresa is pulled into the layered drama of the Ivy Five, the most influential, powerful wives in the neighborhood. But someone is watching, someone who knows their secrets threatens to tell the truth. I really enjoyed this book. First, I think this will be a fun, entertaining read in the fall. Laskowski does a superb job establishing the autumnal atmosphere, and it made me want a cozy knit and pumpkin picking so bad. That being said, I didn't mind the seasonality of the plot, and I was interested in the development of the suspense and the relationships on Ivy Woods Drive. Told in alternating perspectives, the voices worked well. I never felt like they were muddled, which can be a huge issue with multiple first POV, but Theresa and Kendra's voices felt individual and developed. This definitely felt like a modern take on Desperate Housewives, and I think anyone who loves the deliciously gossip-prone nature of that show will loves this. I will say the women gave me Mean Girls vibes at times. For the age range, it was a lot of jealous women doing backhanded in things in order to achieve their goals. Because of that, this read felt a little indulgent, so I can see this making a good beach read, as well. I figured out most of the twists early on, but there are several pivots that are enjoyable and executed well which was enough to keep the suspense quick-moving and riveting to the last page. I did find myself wishing for a little more communication, as most of the problems could've been solved easily if the characters had chosen to have honest discussions with each other, but I loved the flashbacks and the final chapters. Overall, The Mother Next Door was an entertaining, fast-paced, indulgent read with a cast of unlikable characters, unreliable narrators, and twists that will leave you guessing. For fans of Desperate Housewives, Mean Girls, Pretty Little Liars, or anyone looking for a suburban suspense with family secrets. Thank you to Graydon House and NetGalley for providing an eARC in exchange for honest review consideration.

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