During the last few weeks of summer before school started I was totally in the mood for a good contemporary beach read. I shopped my shelves and picked up My Life Next Door by Huntley Fitzpatrick, which I’d been eyeing for months.
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 evening, 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 she saved herself?
A transporting debut about family, friendship, first romance, and how to be true to one person you love without betraying another.
Can we just acknowledge how lovely this cover is? It just has the exact look you want from a summer read…at least in my mind!
But My Life Next Door isn’t just a pretty cover, it is a well-developed contemporary romance with some serious sides. However, the story doesn’t feel heavy or overly weighty, but instead still maintains it’s summery feel despite the harder issues.
One thing I noticed about this book right away was the grace that it shows to different types or sizes of families. Throughout the novel we see Samantha’s small and reserved family sharply contrasted with Jase’s large and rambunctious one. We see snapshots into the inner workings of both, and what I appreciate the most is that there is no “better” or “worse” between the two. Through Samantha and Jase’s romance (squeeeee!) we see that there are positive and negative aspects to both small and large families and that each has its own unique form of dynamics, some parts healthy and some not.
Now, I mentioned the romance between Samantha and Jase. YES YES YES YES YES! This relationship is just so sweet you can’t help but read My Life Next Door and swoon a little. There is that perfect mix of excitement and uncertainty that usually accompanies first love. And Jase…he is the stuff that teen (or not-so-teen) crushes are made of!
Even the not-so-likeable characters and the not-so-romantic parts of the story are so well-rounded that you are able to understand the reasoning behind the actions being taken, even if you still don’t like them and they make you really angry!
So, even though I know it’s not summer anymore, but if you’re longing for the feel of the warm summer weather you may want to check out My Life Next Door because it will not disappoint!
Author: Huntley Fitzpatrick
Publisher: Dial Books for Young Readers (June 14, 2012)
Length: 394 pages
YA/MG: YA (I’d say 8th grade and up)
Buy the Book: My Life Next Door