Monday, May 27, 2013

Review: My Life Next Door by Huntley Fitzpatrick

My Life Next Door by Huntley Fitzpatrick
Publication Date: June 14, 2012
Publisher: Dial Books for Young Readers
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.
My Thoughts
My Life Next Door is a great YA contemporary that would make an awesome addition to any summer beachside reading list. Huntley Fitzpatrick’s debut novel is full of laughs, heartfelt moments, memorable friendships and just downright good storytelling. Samantha and Jase’s adventure is one I won’t soon forget. Absolutely lovely!!

First off, let me share that as I find my reading choices altering quite a bit, there’s one genre I probably won’t ever grow out of and that’s YA contemporary. I’ve pretty much had my fill of teenage love triangles, shiny vampires, and absentee parents that seem to be formulaic of most YA. So if I’m going to invest my time in young adult, as of late I’d like it to be something completely unique and/or realistically possible. It’s no secret that the YA market is absolutely flooded, so unless an author has an established fan base, any new contender needs to be ready with something different or something that will resonate with their audience. For My Life Next Door the secret ingredient that Fitzpatrick infused in her story was the believability of her characters who shared common problems making them feel relatable.

Jase and Sam have lived next door to each other for years, but have never approached one another in all that time. Jase comes from a loud, full-of-life and large family - we’re talking 8 brothers and sisters total in the Garrett family. This contrasts dramatically from Sam’s quiet existence being the daughter of the Senator who is expected to be polished and on her game at every moment because of the spotlight placed on her family. She’s watched Jase’s family from afar, but because of her mother’s feelings about “Those Garretts,” she’s never had the nerve to engage with them. That all changes one summer night when Jase climbs her terrace and changes Sam’s life forever.

I’d like to commend Fitzpatrick for her ability to infuse a reasonable amount of conflict in her story without running the risk of making it feel overly dramatic or contrived. She created a believable representation of true life for a teenage girl embarking on a life altering summer.

Samantha Reed is the MC in this novel, and I enjoyed meeting this character. She had some tough events happen to her in a few short summer months. Most of it was left slightly unresolved, but that’s okay because to tie her story with a pretty red bow would be to sell her adventure short. I admired the choices she made when it came to how she handled her best friend, Tim and “big incident” involving her mom. She definitely felt the brunt of her choices, but she stood behind her decisions and I applauded that.

Jase was a perfect partner for Samantha. Their maturity levels were truly magnified in how they interacted with each other and the two families involved. I loved them as a couple, but I adored them as individuals. Great character development where these two were concerned.

I’d also like to make a note of how simply enamored I was with little George. He was an absolute adorable addition to the story. I enjoyed his mental frenzy and how tender Jase and Sam handled him. What a cute little kid with such a commanding presence.

On a final note, I have to share how slightly put off I was with Mr. and Mrs. Garrett. For the most part, I can stand aside and realize that adults should be able to make their own choices because it’s up to them to deal with the consequence. I don’t have any issues with people that have a large family and I know it’s not my place to render any judgment left or right in this case. But when it came to the Garrett’s, each addition to their family felt like an “oops we’re pregnant again,” and when even the older children who were suffering the heavy lifting of caring for the little ones, supporting the family business, figuring out how to make their way to college… it just felt irresponsible on the parent’s part and unfair for the kids. That issue seemed to stay on my mind the entire time and I felt bad for the Garrett kids for their parent’s lack of judgment. That is all I want to say on that.

Overall though, I enjoyed My Life Next Door and I will definitely keep my eye out for other novels by this author. Add me to her fan base… I was pleased. :)
4 Snowflakes

7 comments:

  1. Wonderful review! This one sounds like a book that I need to get for my summer reading list! I've actually been getting into more contemporary books since I started book blogging and I'm starting to find the charm in them!

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    1. Thank you Christianna. I think this would make a great summer read. :) I love this genre, so I have to agree with you. :D Hope you enjoy it.

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  2. I agree 100% with you that YA market is so full and it's hard to stand out, but as for you, this book did stand out for me as well. I found Jase and Sam to be the perfect fit as well and I agree that it was selfish of the Garrett's parents to assume that they could keep making babies without it affecting the lives of their other children who've put their life on hold to help raise the little ones. I still loved this book passionately and I'm glad you did, too. Thanks for sharing!

    Siiri @ Little Pieces of Imagination

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    1. I really did enjoy it Siiri. I agree, it's sort of hard to find something unique in this genre lately with the large amount of choices, but like you said Jase and Sam were great together and I enjoyed their story. :)

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  3. I read this book last summer, in the middle of a power outage that affected half the city for DAYS (ugh), but it was great at taking my mind off of things. I completely understand what you mean about contemporary YA. Even though my tastes are shifting away from paranormal, they will never stray from contemp. Great review!

    -Taylor @ Reading is the Thing 

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    1. Oh wow! See that's why I still like to have some physical books handy and not have everything in my eReader. I'd like the option to have books available if anything was to happen. Forget food and water, I need books! LOL Sorry you went through that Taylor. :( I haven't picked up a paranormal in a while and I'm just not in the mood for them lately. I like to read about human boys lately. :) Thanks so much!!

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  4. Its like you read my mind! You seem to know so much about this, like you wrote the book in it or something. I think that you could do with some pics to drive the message home a bit, but other than that, this is great blog. A great read. 338A Sbobet Casino

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