TITLE: My Life Next Door
AUTHOR: Huntley Fitzpatrick
PUBLISHER/YEAR: Dial Books/2012
GENRE: YA, Contemporary
SOURCE: Local Library
Goodreads / Author's Website
You guys, wow. Just wow. This book. It blew me away. I loved it in that perfect summer read kind of way. Okay, here's the deal. Samantha Reed is a state senator's daughter. Her house is clean and pristine as is her mother. Next door are the Garrets. They're this big, loud, messy family and just way more fun. Samantha falls for Jase one of the sons, the boy next door and the story follows their lives over the course of the summer.
This book just felt so real. Like sure the situation may not be what we all experienced as teenagers, but they FELT real. This is a seminal summer for Samanthat and Jase. They're experiencing first love, entering their final year of high school and basically just starting to figure their lives out. It's messy and problematic and that's where the beauty of this story was. They each have their own problems and their own families. They have lives outside of each other which are just as compelling as the romance.
Samantha's dealing with her friend Nan. Their friendship is on the rocks and she's not sure why. That just seems so familiar to me. I remember being that age and having friends just bail, no explanation given. Not only that, but Nan's brother Tim is a burn out, but she still cares about him. Old childhood friend and all. These are situations that I at least find highly relatable.
The romance itself is a draw for me. Sure they fall pretty damn quickly, but they are teenagers and long time neighbours. What I absolutely loved about the romance was how well thought out it was. There were no sweeping declarations of love after the first date. They were both cautious with their emotions. They discussed things. They discussed their lives and I thought hey, here are two characters who actually care about each other.
Their families were also pretty great. I mean the Garrets were just so full of life and despite being this huge family, each individual was an individual. They had quirks, but were grounded enough to feel real. They weren't flawless, but they were the kind of people you want to surround yourself with. Samantha's family on the other hand. Less great. More stony. But that didn't hurt them as characters. They served a purpose, but were fleshed out enough to again seem grounded.
My Life Next Door was one of those books that I really didn't want to end. It was a great read and the perfect book to read during the summer months. You can practically smell the beach the writing was so vivid. I wanted to curl up with these characters, comfort them at times and play with them at others. Sure it's a romance, but there is MORE to these people that their relationship. Fitzpatrick took great pains to ensure that an entire world was set up. I cared about the relationship because I cared about these people and just really never want to let them go.