Peter Lovenheim had lived on the same street in suburban Rochester, New York much of his life. But it was only after a brutal murder-suicide rocked the neighborhood that he was struck by a fact of modern life in contemporary American communities: No one really knew anyone else.
Thus began Peter's search to meet and get to know his neighbors. Being inquisitive, he did more than just introduce himself. He asked, ever so politely, if he could sleep over.
With an open mind and a curious spirit, Lovenheim takes us inside the homes, minds, and hearts of his neighbors and asks a thought-provoking question: Do neighborhoods still matterand is something lost when we live as strangers next door?
Penguin Books/Perigee Trade hardcover, April 2010, ISBN: 978-0399535710
Penguin Group (USA) Paperback, April 2011, ISBN-13: 9780399536472
Featured in USA Today
"Lovenheim advances ideas about isolation in the modern world, and why a welcoming front porch is needed now more than ever."
"Lovenheim's writing is genteel and elegantly detailed, revealing much about his subjectsissues of class, relationships, likes and gripes, obsessions and everyday strugglesthat would be easy to miss in broad cultural assessments. His project also exposes the surprising variety of people in a neighborhood that seems, at first glance, a homogenous group of upper-middle-class professionals. Using the sleepover as an innovative sociological lens, Lovenheim provides a smart . . . personal look at what Americans tend to lose by [going] about their lives largely detached from those living around them."
"Equal parts memoir and sociological study. . . The people Lovenheim meets have great backstories, and his life is enriched by his efforts. It's impossible to read this book without feeling the urge to knock on neighbors' doors."
"Lovenheim's bookalways respectful and courteous, like a good house guestexplores the concept of community and the fact that many of us live lives isolated from our neighbors. Lovenheim's mission isn't just to get to know his neighbors; it is to try, gently, to bring them together. It is hard not to be charmed [and] to read this book and not think of your own neighborhood, your own street. Who do you know? Everyone? Anyone? No one at all?"
Minneapolis Star Tribune
"I couldn't put this book down. It's not only a fascinating sociological take on modern American communities, but a deeply personal story."
—Lauren Daly, BookLovers (read the full review/interview)
"The book he [Lovenheim] wrote based on this experience is a poignant and often hilarious description of what he discovered behind his neighbors' doors—from a real estate agent considering leaving her husband to a brave single mother with terminal cancer to a lonely retired doctor who later becomes that single mother's caregiver and driver. Lovenheim not only got to know his neighbors, but he lets us know them too—which in turn makes us want to know our own neighbors. The book poses a profoundly theological question: Could we, in the busyness of our lives, be missing out on the very people that God intends for us to meet?"
—Christian Century (read the full review/interview) (PDF)
"One of the most interesting sections of the book charts Lovenheim's meeting with Jamie Columbus, a local realtor who is interested in psycho-geography. She explains that, in early civilizations, communities were structured as circles fanning out from a central meeting place or town square; nowadays, with grid layouts dominating town planning, we have lost that core."
—City Weekend Guide, Shanghai Blogs (read the full review/interview)