Thursday 23 March 2023

Those People Next Door by Kia Abdullah | Book Review

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Those People Next Door by Kia Abdullah
My rating: 4/5
Publisher: HQ
Publication date: 19th January 2023

You can choose your house. Not your neighbours.

Salma Khatun is extremely hopeful about Blenheim, the safe suburban development to which she, her husband and their son have just moved. Their family is in desperate need of a fresh start, and Blenheim feels like the place to make that happen.

Not long after they move in, Salma spots her neighbour, Tom Hutton, ripping out the anti-racist banner her son put in their front garden. She chooses not to confront Tom because she wants to fit in. It's a small thing, really. No need to make a fuss. So Salma takes the banner inside and puts it in her window instead. But the next morning she wakes up to find her window smeared with paint.

This time she does confront Tom, and the battle lines between the two families are drawn. As things begin to escalate and the stakes become higher, it's clear that a reckoning is coming… And someone is going to get hurt.

I always know I'll be extremely satisfied when I read a Kia Abdullah novel.

Those People Next Door follows The Khatun's, Salma, Bilal and their son Zain who move to Blenheim, a suburban development in the hopes that it will impact teenage Zain in a positive way. He had begun falling in with the wrong crowd.

They are instantly welcomed to Blenheim at a barbecue and get to know their next door neighbours Tom and Willa Hutton. Zain becomes friends with the Hutton's son, Jamie, when they meet across their balconies. Jamie is deaf and Zain is great when it comes to tech and coding so they quickly hit it off and decide to create an app to help those who are deaf or hard of hearing. I loved what we saw of their friendship and thought Jamie was a great supporting character.

When Salma hangs a Black Lives Matter flag in her garden and sees Tom knock it down, she gives him the benefit of the doubt. When she moves it into the window and her window pane is then covered in paint, she begins to think Tom has something against them. 

Abdullah is a wonderful storyteller and although I felt like this was a slow burner, I was kept fully invested. The things Tom did towards the Khatun's, how he tried to justify it then when we got to the crux of the novel, and what I think Abdullah does best, those court scenes - *chefs kiss*!

It was such an interesting take on the subject of race. If you have never read a book by Kia Abdullah, do it now! 

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