Wednesday, July 18, 2012

My Life Next Door, by Huntley Fitzpatrick

 Release date: June 14th 2012
Published by: Dial Books For Young Readers
Genre: Contemporary (YA)
Find it on: Goodreads, Amazon

A gorgeous debut about family, friendship, first romance, and how to be true to one person you love without betraying another

“One thing my mother never knew, and would disapprove of most of all, was that I watched the Garretts. All the time.”

The Garretts are everything the Reeds are not. Loud, numerous, messy, affectionate. And every day from her balcony perch, seventeen-year-old Samantha Reed wishes she was one of them . . . until one summer evening, Jase Garrett climbs her terrace and changes everything. As the two fall fiercely in love, Jase's family makes Samantha one of their own. Then in an instant, the bottom drops out of her world and she is suddenly faced with an impossible decision. Which perfect family will save her? Or is it time she saved herself?

A dreamy summer read, full of characters who stay with you long after the story is over.

A lot of contemporary novels came out this year, but I didn't love any of them - except, maybe, Catching Jordan. I had high expectations for My Life Next Door, because of the lovely cover, and the simple, yet very eye-catching, synopsis. I can't say this novel was absolutely fantastic and that I loved every part of it, but it was as close to being my favorite contemporary novel of all times as possible.

The premise of a rich girl that's been fascinated by her neighbors' big family her entire life was, perhaps, what really caught my attention. And, fortunately, the story delivered exactly what I looking for - a cute summer romance, a reliable main character, and a swoon-worthy, sweet boy. Samantha and Jase were great to read about. They had distinct personalities that, despite their financial differencies, fit in a way that I hadn't seen before. They had chemistry, yes, but there was also that unmistakable air of reality that allowed me to love them, but not forget everything else about the book, like the secondary characters and their respective plotlines.

While that can be a good thing, it didn't quite work for me, in a way. Had I been falling head over heels in love with Jase and Samantha, I wouldn't have noticed Nan's lack of characterization, and so, I would've enjoyed this novel a lot more. But I did notice it, and it was a big fail. You see, Nan is Sam's best friend, and Tim is Nan's brother. He's on drugs, and his parents want to send him to a military school (why they didn't send him to rehab, that's something I'll never know). Nan is, of course, hesitant to let her brother go to such place. I understood her, really... but when she started to cover up everything that Tim did, it felt like she was crossing a line I would never cross.

And she didn't cover up something simple... oh, no. She covered up the fact that Tim almost got her and Sam killed in a car crash, because he was stoned. And when Sam tried to talk to her about it, maybe make her see reason and tell her parents what had happened to them, how Tim couldn't go on and do these things without horrible consequences (like, say, wrapping his car around a tree and getting himself killed), you know what Nan said? That there was no way she'd do that, because he was already on so much trouble, and military school would destroy him. Are you kidding me? Not to mention that when Sam asked how Tim was, here's what she said:

“He’s fine. Let’s talk about what really matters. Which wasn’t important enough to tell me. Why?” --- (Refering to the fact that Samantha was dating Jase and didn't tell Nan about it)

I can't even put into words how much this bothered me. Nan was a brat. She was supposed to be Sam's best friend, and while I understand that she envied Sam because of her "easy life" and her money, Nan doesn't care about her brother and Sam at all. At all. I kid you not. She spent her whole life pretending to love Sam, when she only cared about herself. I hated this girl so much she could've died and I wouldn't have cared. Look, I used to envy one of my best friends. She had everything I wanted, and she didn't ask for it. She had the perfect life and the perfect hair and the perfect parents, and I didn't. But that didn't stop me from loving her, and from supporting her and rooting for her. Despite my personal feelings, she was my friend, and I never abandoned her. Ever. But Nan?

So... my fierce hatred for this selfish character notwithstanding, I loved the romance, and I loved the twist in the plot towards the ending. It was realistic (though a little convinient) and it added a ton of tension in the story. It offered me a view of who the Garretts really were, and how much they struggled to sustain their huge family. The author used a lot of stereotypes (especially regarding Southern people, and rich mothers), but they didn't feel forced. In fact, it fit Samantha's world.

My Life Next Door was an enjoyable read, one full of fluff and romantic scenes, but also filled with realistic problems, and reliable situations. Huntley Fitzpatrick created a fine balance between what's right and what's practical. She dealt with issues that I wasn't expecting, like drugs and pregnancy and sex, that added a deeper layer to Samantha and Jase's story. Overall, an enchanting debut. I'll finish this review with one of my favorite quotes:

"The right thing to do is so easy to see when you are seventeen years old and don’t have to make any big decisions. When you know that no matter what you do, someone will take care of you and fix everything. But when you’re grown up, the world is not that black and white, and the right thing doesn’t have a tidy little arrow pointing to it. Things happen, adults make decisions, and that’s the bottom line.”


  1. I love the you're a firework so just explode die. Hilarious! I've heard pretty good things about this one. I'm curious about how you describe both the chemistry and reality between the characters.

    1. LOL, I love this gif, xD
      Yes, this aspect of the story was rather interesting. Unusual, but still interesting. Give it a shot, you may like it!

  2. I'm glad you enjoyed this, Beatriz! I plan to give it a shot one day after all the positive reviews I've been reading. Nana does sounds frustrating but I'm glad you enjoyed it otherwise. ;) great review!

    1. Thank you *-*
      I think you'll like it, Sam. It's a very refreshing read. Yep, Nan was frustrating, but everything else - the characters, the romance, and the plot - fortunately made up for it :D