By: Huntley Fitzpatrick
Publisher: Dial Books for Young Readers
Release Date: June 14, 2012
Genre/Age: YA Contemporary (recommended for older YA)
Source: ARC from Around the World ARC Tours
“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 trellis and changes everything. As the two fall fiercely in love and stumble through the awkwardness and awesomeness of first romance, Jase’s family makes Samantha one of their own – even as she keeps him a secret from her disapproving mother and critical best friend. Then the 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 debut novel about family, friendship, first romance, and how to be true to one person you love without betraying another.
Oh my goodness, I looooooooooved this book. It is an absolutely amazing debut and definitely stands out among YA contemporaries. To be honest, I was expecting a pretty standard story, but Huntley Fitzpatrick blew me away and I got so much more than that. I read it as part of an ARC tour and almost didn't sign up for it, but I'm soooooo glad I did. I barely put the book down once I started, and after I finished I kept wishing that I was still reading it.
The Garretts are, hands-down, my favorite part of the story. They are such a wonderful family and I fell completely in love with them almost instantly. (Especially the darling four-year-old George. Can I please please have a George in my life??). I adore stories about big, loving families (the Weasleys, anyone?), and this is no exception. From the minute Sam entered their world I was grinning like a fool pretty much the whole time. I want to have a large family myself (although I think I’m planning to stop at six kids, haha), and this book totally reaffirmed that desire. The craziness and love is just portrayed so perfectly. I also really love the contrast with Sam’s own family; how she escapes into the world of the Garretts and finds a whole new life for herself. I loved watching her grow as a result of her interactions with a family so different than her own.
And the romance! Oh my. The romance in this story is so achingly sweet. Sam and Jase are ADORABLE. I felt like they had such a mature relationship, which was a really refreshing change from the silly drama that seems to be present in so many other high school romance stories. I was pleasantly surprised by how they handled certain situations, and many times I could be found clutching the book to my chest in happiness. And although the focus of the book is on Jase and Sam, I would be remiss not to also mention Nan, Sam’s best friend, and her brother Tim, both of whom I loved – the story would not be complete without them.
I knew from the blurb that there was going to be some kind of Bad Event, and once I got a little more than halfway through the book I started anxiously anticipating. I had several predictions about what might happen (and was very nervous for the safety and happiness of all my beloved characters), but I absolutely didn’t see it coming. It’s a shocking and heart wrenching twist, and it makes the story that much more compelling. My heart ached for Sam, but at the same time it allowed for some really wonderful moments between her and various other characters, as well as for her own personal development. There were just a couple of things that I wish had been resolved a little more before the book ended, but they were fairly minor.
My Life Next Door is a beautifully written story that captures a summer romance perfectly. Your emotions will be all over the place and you will love it. This is one of my new favorite contemporaries and I am so so excited to read more from Huntley Fitzpatrick. If you’re a fan of authors like Sarah Dessen, Elizabeth Scott, or Sarah Ockler, you WILL NOT want to miss this book.
And just as a final note, I read this in February, but it happened to be a rare 80 degree day and I just went outside and sat in the grass and ate a popsicle and enjoyed the sun and read nonstop and it was SO PERFECT. I’m so glad this is coming out in June, because it is JUST the thing for an amazing summer read. You can feel the heat coming off the pages. Take it poolside with you, you won’t be sorry.