I rated The Last House on the Street by Diane Chamberlain a 3.9/5 stars. This standalone was a mix of contemporary and historical fiction involving a hard theme involving racism, segregation, and murder with dual timelines.
Here are my live thoughts while reading:
Well the first chapter definitely hooked me. Kayla is in 2010 and designs houses. Some creepy old stranger lady visits her office, knows way too much about Kayla’s personal past & talks about wanting to kill someone. What the hell? Lol.
Chapter two brought us back in time to Ellie in 1965. I was far less interested since it was all backstory and info dump. There was lots of segregation and protest chatter. I’m more interested in how the two stories will intersect but not as thrilled about the journey to get there. I usually love dual timeline stories but am feeling unsure if I’ll want the 1965 chapters of this book.
In chapter three, I’m enjoying the well-done sinister, paranoid vibe of looking over your shoulder for whoever might be tracking Kayla and her young daughter. Why is that house a threat? What about that neighborhood would cause a concern? Why would the lady give a warning?
Also, I love when books are set in my state of North Carolina. The familiarity is welcoming.
The chapters are short but in chapter five there’s just repetition. I see the author slowly introducing more characters. I know Brenda will be annoying and a problem the whole book. So far, I’m trying to convince myself to not skim because this is a really popular book so I’m hoping to like it more. Yet at the same time, I’m a bit exhausted reading about racism. I understand that’s an entitled statement to make since I don’t have to live through it myself day in and out, but it’s also my truth. Books are a way of jumping out of reality into another world or life and when a book is heavily themed in racism, it doesn’t feel like I’m leaving reality at all.
In chapter 13 I’m glad the two main characters joined/met. And it’s crazy that Ellie’s old boyfriend, Reed, is Kayla’s father.
In chapter 23 I’m feeling impatient that things are being revealed too slowly.
Chapter 31 is my worst nightmare so it’s kinda hard to read. I usually only have one type of storyline I don’t like reading … well 2 … anything horror and when children are abducted.
Chapter 44 was rough but predictable.
Chapter 49- at least there’s a little closure? The only bright side
In conclusion, this was a good, solid book but was a difficult read. I wasn’t in the “mood” for this type of story but who ever really is? The prose flowed well, thought the first half was a little slower. I enjoyed the current timeline more than the past.