Book Review #16
Good Neighbors Review: by Ryan David Jahn
I heard about this book on Goodreads because it was a book that was being given away to an incredibly lucky person. I don’t know if any of you have tried to win books on Goodreads, but all I can say is that it’s a disappointing process, like all contests. Anyway, I was intrigued by the cover of this book, it being a house, and decided to see what it was about. I can’t tell you how excited I was when I read the summary and realized it was a fictionalization of the Kitty Genovese story.
What is the Kitty Genovese story, you ask? Well, if you did in fact ask, I’ll tell you! Kitty Genovese was a young woman who was brutally raped and stabbed repeatedly outside of her own apartment complex. The amazing thing about the story is that most of her neighbors heard her screams and saw the man attack her, but did nothing to help. Most assumed that someone else had already called the police, so it seemed pointless. No one came to help and she was left to die alone. From this story, we have the psychological phenomenon called the “Bystander Effect”. It states that when there’s trouble, you’re less likely to do something to help if you’re in a large group than you would on your own. In comes diffusion of responsibility where you think that someone else will take care of it, or don’t think you can help, so you do nothing.
Right off the bat I was interested in the book, and it proved to be an interesting read. The author Jahn proved to be very ambitious with the issues he covered, i.e. sadism, homosexuality, divorce, swingers, enlistment, suicide and depression. In his writing, he made it apparent that none of these things were considered normal in the time period and they shouldn’t be talked about. All of this is, obviously, correct. This is nothing short of admirable that he was able to write about every issue that would be viewed as uncomfortable for people in that time. None of the issues the author deals with would have been easily talked about in that time period, but it works to talk about them today since we’re not as close-minded as our grandparents might have been.
Ryan David Jahn works in a lot of different characters in order to tell his tale and the story isn’t entirely devoted to who you think would be the main character, Kat aka. Kitty. Jahn has all the characters that dwell in the same apartment complex as Kat and gives the reader a look into his/her life to show his/her struggles. At times this got to be confusing, because the web of characters became so large it was hard to keep track since the author switched perspective often. It was critical to include all the neighbors in the book, but more clarification of who each chapter is about at the beginning would have made it clearer.