Thursday, February 13, 2014

Review: My Life Next Door

My Life Next Door
Author: Huntley Fitzpatrick
Published: June 14, 2012
Paperback, 416 pages
5 Gold Stars

(summary from Goodreads)

"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, 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.

This book beat every expectation I had for it. I went into it looking for a light fluffy read and ended up with a book that will stay in my mind forever. This is a Romeo and Juliet story for the new age. Samantha has been told all her life to stay away from the Garretts next door. They are the opposite of her clean house and small family, loud, messy and kids continuously being added to the family. Sam has spent her whole life watching the Garretts from afar, wishing for a life more like theirs. Then one day she finally meets one of them, Jase, and suddenly her life is very different - full of secrets, kids, and stolen kisses. The Garretts quickly welcome her into their family and she gradually moves away from her own. Soon the families come together in the worse possible way and Samantha has to decide where her loyalties really lie - with her politician mother or the family that has taken her in as one of their own and the boy she loves more than anything. 

The romance between Samantha and Jase is adorable. They've lived next door to each other for a long time but have never met and when they finally do, it's like getting hit by a truck. Jase is welcoming and helpful, inviting her into his house and making her feel at home. Their love is refreshing, there are no awful undertones and the only problem they really have is the fact that Sam's mother doesn't approve of the relationship. They fall in love quickly, as most young lovers do, and when they decide to take it further, they are both consenting and the moment is tender and loving. Fitzpatrick wrote a couple who live and act like real people and it was fantastic to read. The antagonist is unlikely, which is also refreshing, and he creeps into the story without notcie. He could easily have been another guy Sam's age, or one of Jase's family members, but instead he is a cunning, evil man who will stop at nothing to get what he wants. The secondary characters really help this book. The whole Garrett family is unique and each one flies off the page. George is a curious child who takes everything you say very seriously. Andy is just starting to date and doesn't know how to handle it. It's nice seeing characters with distinct personalities and each character in this book is very well written, including those we don't like very much.

I won't lie when I say I thought this would be a cute, light story with a very happy ending. This book was so much more than I thought it would be. Things happen that shocked me and I wondered how anything would be okay with Sam and Jase after the incidents. This is the perfect story of young love with the real threats of life taking that away. Definitely a contemporary to remember. I can't wait to see what else this author can do!

“I don't know. I didn't have that choice. But I know what's happening now. And I'm choosing to stay with you.” 

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