Diane Chamberlain’s métier is crafting a story that links the past and the present in unique ways, from a contemporary artist restoring a historic mural in Big Lies in a Small Town to time-traveling in The Dream Daughter, she has a true gift for finding new ways to explore how the present is built on the past. The Last House on the Street is another unique look at the past through today. In this book, Kayla Carter is building a house, one that was supposed to be a dream home for her family, but now her husband died in an accident in the home and she is conflicted. Does she really want to live there now? Add to that, there is a woman warning her against moving there and people say the forest behind the house is haunted. And it sure seems so.

In the past, there is the story of Ellie Hockley, who joins Freedom Summer registering voters. She is unique in that she is not a volunteer coming from the north but a local Southern young woman who wants to make a difference so much she forges her father’s name on the permission form. In her work, she meets a young Black man and falls in love. And of course, the South is the South so they do not live happily ever after.

Diane Chamberlain cannot write a bad novel, but I sure wish she would stop writing white saviors. Ellie did not seem real, she felt like a plot device and that is disappointing. I understand the desire to highlight the sins of the past, but using a white savior as the lens distorts the past and washes away the sins. I understand she wants to write novels that speak to big problems, novels that matter, but let them be more honest.

I received an e-galley of The Last House on the Street from the publisher through NetGalley.

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