Thursday, June 28, 2012

My Life Next Door by Huntley Fitzpatrick

* * * *

 “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, messy, affectionate. And every day from her rooftop perch, Samantha Reed wishes she was one of them … until one summer night Jase Garrett climbs up next to her and changes everything.

As the two fall fiercely for each other, stumbling through the awkwardness and awesomeness of first love, Jase’s family embraces Samantha – even as she keeps him a secret from her own. Then something unthinkable happens, and the bottom drops out of Samantha’s world. She’s suddenly faced with an impossible decision. Which perfect family will save her? Or is it time to save herself?

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

I don't read contemporary romance too often but if they're written as lovely as My Life Next Door then I am thrilled to read more. It's been a while since I've read a book and seriously gushed over it to anyone who comes near me.
Seventeen year-old Samantha is an absolute delight. I enjoyed everything about her – her naiveté her awkward moments, her maturity and most importantly her eventual decision toward the end of the book to stand up for what's right – even if it means she has to stand up to her narrow-minded mother. Samantha’s mom, Grace, has good intentions for her children, though it’s evident from the beginning that since she entered into politics, her attention to her daughters has lessened. It’s Samantha who notices how much her mother has changed especially when she starts dating a younger man who also happens to be her campaign manager. Samantha is a bit blindsided by these events yet Grace shows no recognition of how much Samantha is changing.  Instead she mothers through post-its and schedules but doesn’t really engage with her daughters. She sees what she wants to and has expectations that are a bit unfair. Samantha, being the good kid that she is takes it in stride. She is very insightful when it comes to noticing her mother’s change. It's too bad her mother doesn’t wake up for a while.

It's when Samantha offically meets Jase for the first time after years of observing his family over their privacy fence that her world starts to change. Jase is impossibly perfect but a dream come true for Samantha – and for all us other girls too. He’s easygoing and unfazed by things. Plus he can fix cars, motorcycles, vacuums and babysit! But it's his thoughtfulness that really does a girl in. Case in point:

"Jaces' green eyes meet mine, then his lashes lower. 'I guess I like things that take time and attention. More worthwhile that way.'"

Seriously, can we clone this guy?  The Garrett’s home is a culture shock to Samantha who has only known order and routine all her life. Every member of the Garrett family shines with abundant personality and she takes to them instantly. 

As Samantha spends more time with Jase and his family she learns the valuable lesson of looking beyond the surface. Sure their yard may be a perpetual mess and Jase’s parents my breed like rabbits but that doesn’t make them bad people. In fact, they’re all hardworking, upstanding folk. This lesson comes in handy particularly when she is blindsided by how her two best friends, Nan and her brother Tim, have always viewed her as a trust fund baby. They’re under the misconception that she has always had it easy because her family has money. As these two worlds eventually meet, Samantha has to figure out how she'll balance her mother's expectations with her own growing independence. And when things take a turn for the worst, Samantha finds a way to push through. This is what I adore about this book: Fitzpatrick allows her characters to evolve and surprise you and she does it so well. Samantha learns that given the chance, some people can pleasantly surprise you and some can also disappoint you.

I know Huntley Fitzpatrick hit the mark with me when I kept reaching for the book even after I finished it. After the initial twinge of sadness that I had done so, I reminded myself that I can always reread it. This book is simply dazzling and will appeal to anyone who loves Stephanie Perkins’  Anna And The French Kiss  and Lola And The Boy Next Door. It has the growing pains issues of the latter but will leave you with the same good vibes that you get from reading Anna. Needless to say, My Life Next Door stands in good company on the bookshelf.
~ Bel


  1. Great review! I loved Ana and the french kiss and Lola and the boy next door so I'm sure I'll love this book too.

  2. What I great review! I've been hearing a lot of people loving this one. I'll have to check it out.


  3. Thanks for stopping by! Yes, please check it out. A good one to have on hand when you want that "feel good" feeling. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did :) ~ Bel