Set in California during the Santa Ana winds of 2007, The Neighbors Are Watching by Debra Ginsberg explores the complex lives of a group of residents of a cul de sac. Each person in this small group harbors secrets, not quite the person they appear on the outside to their neighbors as they come and go from their homes, exchanging polite conversation.
Joe and Allison are a happily married couple until Joe's pregnant teenage daughter shows up at their door. Allison had never known of Diana's existence, and now must make room for her in her home and her life. This sets about changes in their family and ripples throughout the neighborhood. Diana becomes friends with Dorothy and Dick Werner's teenage son Kevin. The Werners are upset about this friendship, trying to forbid it. Diana and Kevin spend most of their time in Kevin's bedroom hanging out, as Kevin avoids both his parents. As her pregnancy progresses, Diana is befriended by the neighborhood lesbian couple Sam and Gloria. Both have lost custody of their children to their ex-husbands, and while the relationship appears strong at first, things are not going well for them, either. Joe and Allison's marriage appears to be falling apart as Allison self medicates her depression over Diana's arrival with alcohol. Joe turns to the neighborhood tramp, Jessalyn, to satisfy his needs.
When Diana goes missing during the mandatory evacuation as raging wildfires come closer, the entire neighborhood is drawn together to help find the new mother, whose baby was left abandoned at home.
To me this felt like a good episode of Desperate Housewives. Lots of secrets that go on behind closed doors. I chuckled to myself several times while reading, thinking about my own neighbors- people we are good friends with. While I can't imagine finding secrets in my neighborhood like Ginsberg reveals, it is true that what is seen in public is only a portion of the whole picture. This was a quick read for me. I managed to finish it off in nearly one sitting, enjoying each and every word.