1965. A young white female student becomes involved in the fight for civil rights in North Carolina, falling in love with one of her fellow activists, a Black man, in a time and place where an interracial relationship must be hidden from family, friends and especially the reemerging Ku Klux Klan. As tensions rise in the town, she realises not everyone is who they appear to be.
2010. A recently widowed architect moves into the home she and her late husband designed, heartbroken that he will never cross the threshold. But when disturbing things begin to happen, it’s clear that someone is sending her a warning. Who is trying to frighten her away, and why?
Decades later, past and present are set to collide in the last house on the street…
Thank you to Headline Review for providing me with an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review!
The Last House on the Street is a deeply moving and unforgettable story that follows two women whose lives become intertwined by shocking events that occurred in 1965.
The story gradually unfolds over two alternating timelines: one in 1965 and the other in 2010. The 2010 timeline follows Kayla who’s recently widowed and moving into the house they built together, but someone doesn’t want her there and tries to frighten her away. In the 1965 timeline, we are introduced to Ellie, a young white student who becomes involved in the fight for civil rights. Something tragic happens in Ellie’s life that affects the present day for Kayla and the story gradually builds up to that moment, where these two women’s lives are set to collide.
I enjoyed Kayla’s chapters and I was especially interested to find out the significance of the house. Kayla wants nothing more than to make this place her home and a safe space for her daughter; however, she is repeatedly threatened by a mysterious woman who seems to know details about her private life. I felt very sympathetic toward Kayla and could only imagine how terrifying her situation was. The tragic death of her husband is made worse by the threatening messages and the fact that she’s completely isolated, with someone watching her every move.
Kayla also meets her only neighbours, Ellie and her family, who she can tell is hiding something about her past. I couldn’t wait to find out how the house was connected to past events, what secrets were hidden there and why someone was so determined to protect those secrets. I was happy to see Ellie; it was interesting to compare her to her younger self and see how much she’d changed over the years. It gave me a sense of foreboding though and I could feel the tension gradually building up in the 1965 timeline.
Ellie’s chapters were definitely the most compelling and very educational. The pacing was perfect and the story was extremely well-crafted. While I felt the events that took place in Kayla’s chapters progressed a lot slower, this was not the case for Ellie’s, as they only escalated. When she is assigned to cover a protest for her university’s paper, she feels moved by their courage and compelled to join them. This leads her to join SCOPE, a volunteer program that sends people to rural counties to educate Black people about their rights to vote. However, she does so against the wishes of her loved ones and faces pressure from her parents to quit the program. The more time Ellie spends with the program, the closer she grows to the other volunteers and this only angers her community. What follows is a series of tragic, shocking and heartbreaking events. The tension leading up to these events was palpable and I did cry a few times at what unfolded.
The Last House on the Street is a powerful and unmissable story that will capture your full attention and stay with you long after you’ve turned the last page.