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Gentrification In A Fictional NC Suburb

Book cover with a yellow leaf.
Courtesy of Therese Anne Fowler

The novel “A Good Neighborhood” (St. Martin’s Press/2020) starts with a premise familiar to many North Carolinians: new residents moving into a historic community and putting up a brand new, giant house. 

The Whitmans have just moved to Oak Knoll, a fictional suburb in our state. Their decision to raze all the trees on their lot to put in a pool for their newly-constructed house starts them on the wrong foot with neighbor Valerie Alston-Holt. The conflict deepens as a massive oak tree in Valerie’s yard starts to show signs of stress because of the nearby construction. And teenagers Juniper Whitman and Xavier Alston-Holt begin a budding romance that furthers the bad blood between the families. Host Anita Rao talks to author Therese Anne Fowler about how the real impacts of gentrification inspired her story about race and class.

Amanda Magnus grew up in Maryland and went to high school in Baltimore. She became interested in radio after an elective course in the NYU journalism department. She got her start at Sirius XM Satellite Radio, but she knew public radio was for her when she interned at WNYC. She later moved to Madison, where she worked at Wisconsin Public Radio for six years. In her time there, she helped create an afternoon drive news magazine show, called Central Time. She also produced several series, including one on Native American life in Wisconsin. She spends her free time running, hiking, and roller skating. She also loves scary movies.
Anita Rao is an award-winning journalist and the host and creator of "Embodied," a live, weekly radio show and seasonal podcast about sex, relationships & health. She's also the managing editor of WUNC's on-demand content.