My Life Next Door
By: Huntley Fitzpatrick
Publication Information: June 14th 2012 by Dial Books for Young Readers
Acquisition: Borrowed/Library | Edition: Hardcover,
Categories: Young Adult, Contemporary Romance
Rating: 4.00/5.00 | Goodreads Rating: 4.15/5.00
'Sum-it-up Review': "An epic story of first love and heartbreak, mixed with ample amounts of finding yourself and friendship fall outs and finding your place in your family and the world."
What the Back of the Book Says: 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?
My Thoughts: This is the exact type of book that keeps me interested in contemporary romance. I do not read a lot of them, but when I do, they have to be incredible. My Life Next Door is incredible, and so much more! I easily connected to Samantha Reed, the main character, even though I think I connected to Jase Garrett and his menagerie of family members a little more. I absolutely HATED Samantha's mother, Grace, and her campaign manager-slash-boyfriend, Clay Tucker. Not only is Grace incredibly stuffy, materialistic, and way too concerned with appearances, but as events unfold later in the story, she becomes in my mind, a monster. With the help of Clay, who seems to lack any morals or concern for humankind. They are the type of people who will manipulate a situation - even when they are in the wrong - to benefit no one but themselves. Yeah, they're scum!
What's wonderful about Fitzpatrick's writing, is that while Samantha remains the main character, each of the secondary characters go through their own transformations without the book losing focus or feeling lost. The topics that Fitzpatrick manages to cover - from Tim's drug and alcohol dependency, to Nan's cheating scandal, to Samantha's mother's run for the state Senate seat, each scenario is fully explored and deeply delved into.
The world-building is wonderful as well. You feel like you've literally left your own town and got dropped right in the middle of Stony Bay, Connecticut. Like you've eaten breakfast at Breakfast Ahoy! Like you've spent an afternoon at the B&T or had ice cream at Doane's. Fitzpatrick's won me over with every aspect that I deem important in a work of fiction, and plan to read pretty much anything she'll be writing in the future.
There is nothing more amazing than a main character who begins as one person, goed through a transformation throughout the novel and emerges as a newer, better version of the person we met on page one. Samantha was lovable from the start, but put her through the hell she experiences with her mother, her new and consuming relationship with Jase, and her failing friendship with Nan, and the book ends with a strong, self-reliant, self-dependent girl who can take anything that is thrown at her with grace and ease.
Final Thoughts: A book that starts out light and slowly heads into dark territory, My Life Next Door has everything that anyone can appreciate, no matter what your usual preferred genre. A must-read for anyone, regardless of age!
If You Liked This, Read This: Something Like Normal by Trish Doller | The Thing About the Truth by Lauren Barnholdt | Flirting in Italian by Lauren Henderson | Pushing the Limits by Katie McGarry | A Midsummer's Nightmare by Kody Keplinger
About the Author: Huntley Fitzpatrick grew up dreamy and distracted in coastal Connecticut, attended Concord Academy and Yale. She flourished in a family of bookworms where everyone always had their nose in a book. She kept an exhaustively thorough journal which frightened her boyfriends but has proved very useful in her career as a writer. Her debut contemporary romance, My Life Next Door, was published in June 2012 by Penguin-Dial for Young Readers. Now she laughs with and eavesdrops on her six children who provide her with perspective and material. She is represented by the amazing Christina Hogrebe of the Jane Rotrosen Agency.