If you are a fan of dual timeline narratives with a rich source of history entwined, just pick out a Diana Chamberlain novel. She’s the best in creating emotional content that has a reader reading late into the night to know how the ending would turn out to be.
The Last House On The Street is as her usual style a dual timeline story that has two strong protagonists. Kayla in the present time is a widow who is trying to get her feet back on solid ground after the sudden loss of her husband and Ellie in the 1960s is out to make a difference in the world irrespective of her entitled background. The past focuses on a turbulent time of history in 1960s with the backdrop of Summer Community Organization And Political Education (SCOPE) which was a project aimed at educating the Blacks to vote using door-to-door canvassing by white guys and girls.
Most dual-time stories have an enriching past and a not too exciting present and this could be boosted by my love for historical fiction. The Last House On The Street, however, has a slight distinction, the past is thought-provoking and intense but Ellie as the central character failed to endear herself to me. She’s fighting her parents and friends by joining SCOPE which was fine as someone who wants to do the right thing but then all her actions came across as selfish and without thoughts of consequences to others. In effect, I loved the historical aspects of the past but somehow was not charmed by the character sketch of Ellie. I felt Kayla more relatable, even though she doesn’t leave much of an impression on a reader’s mind.
The research by the author in capturing the civil rights movement of that time is excellent, no doubt about it. The ending in the past is disturbing but the final culmination scene that interconnects the two parallel stories lacked the impact that I had expected. The mystery element of the story is fairly guessable for avid readers, even otherwise, I wouldn’t advise anyone to read this expecting earth-shattering suspense.
I am probably the outlier for this book, but having read a few of her other works like BIG LIES IN A SMALL TOWN AND THE SECRET LIFE OF CEECEE WILKES, I am going with 3 stars for the Last House On The Street.
From bestselling author Diane Chamberlain comes an irresistible new novel that perfectly interweaves history, mystery, and social justice.
When Kayla Carter’s husband dies in an accident while building their dream house, she knows she has to stay strong for their four-year-old daughter. But the trophy home in Shadow Ridge Estates, a new development in sleepy Round Hill, North Carolina, will always hold tragic memories. But when she is confronted by an odd, older woman telling her not to move in, she almost agrees. It’s clear this woman has some kind of connection to the area…and a connection to Kayla herself. Kayla’s elderly new neighbor, Ellie Hockley, is more welcoming, but it’s clear she, too, has secrets that stretch back almost fifty years. Is Ellie on a quest to right the wrongs of the past? And does the house at the end of the street hold the key? Told in dual time periods, The Last House on the Street is a novel of shocking prejudice and violence, forbidden love, the search for justice, and the tangled vines of two families.
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