Thursday, August 27, 2015

My Life Next Door - Review

My Life Next Door (My Life Next Door, # 1)

By: Huntley Fitzpatrick

Published: June 14th 2012 by Dial Books For Young Readers

394 pages

Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Realistic Fiction

Source: Borrowed from the library

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Goodreads description--"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.

My Life Next Door wasn’t what I thought it would be. But that’s not a bad thing. Sam’s father left her mother when she was pregnant with Sam and Sam’s sister, Tracy, was 1 year old. Sam’s father came from a big family. When the Garretts move next door Sam’s mom, Grace, assumes the worst about them. They’ll be loud and messy. And she’s all about what she can control—neat and pristine and quiet. Grace was a pretty good mom for the most part, but she’s gotten distant lately due to running for political office. Grace has her shortcomings, that’s for sure. One of them is the prejudice she shows toward her next door neighbors. Because they don’t have the kind of life that she has (or wants) she looks down upon them.

But Sam is fascinated by the Garretts. Not only has her mom been distant but her older sister has as well. She’s either wrapped up in her boyfriend, off doing her own thing, or preparing for college. She’s basically just not there for Sam. Plus Grace has recently started dating a guy from her campaign. And this guy gives Sam the creeps in a way that she just can’t quite put her finger on. Regardless, the house that’s full of life has become an extreme fascination for Sam. Until one day, Jase Garrett climbs her trellis and opens her life to a whole new world—the world next door.

Jase is the third child out of eight. He loves his big family and resents those who remark on how bothersome a large family is. I loved the entire Garrett family. Joel, Duff and Harry we didn’t get as much from as Alice, Jase, Andy, George, and Patsy. But each and every one of the members has a great personality attributed to them. Alice is rough around the edges, but she has a soft spot deep down. She’s going to nursing school. Jase is great. He’s everything you hope for in a first love. He’s great at fixing things, and he dreams of going to college. It’s not so much that football is his dream as football is his means of getting a scholarship and thus going to college. Andy is fourteen and hitting her dramatic and boy crazy stage. George seems to be afraid of everything potentially harmful and boy does he have a vast knowledge of what all is harmful. But he’s still a very open kid. Just loveable. And poor Patsy just wants to be fed--breastfed.

A family of 10 has its financial burdens for sure. It doesn’t help that the hardware store Mr. Garrett owns isn’t doing so well either. Yet Sam has it made. Her mother’s family apparently had money and had a trust fund set up for her. Plus with her mother’s work in politics, Samantha has never really wanted for anything. But she doesn’t take that for granted either. Samantha works two jobs during the summer to make her own money and to stay busy.

The nature of the big conflict was not something I predicted in the least based off the description and the start of the book. Of course, some potential conflicts were obvious, but that big one kind of surprised me. How Samantha handled things right at the 80% mark was annoying to me as I felt like it was a bit of a cop out. But big things are at stake and real life would make the right thing to do very difficult. I loved how Jase responds when he learns the truth of what’s going on, and that almost redeems Sam’s stupidity.

Now that I’m typing my review for My Life Next Door I’m really seeing how many dynamics were going on with this book. Aside from the Garretts being great characters, Tim and Nan were great additions too. Nan truly annoyed the mess out of me. Utterly spoiled and self-centered. Tim, on the other hand, really worked hard to overcome who he used to be and change. It took him a while to get to that place though. Having just read My Life Next Door, I can’t say that I would be dying to read from Tim’s POV, but that’s what we’re getting with The Boy Most Likely To. And if that book is even remotely as layered as this one, I’m sure I’ll enjoy it. Tim, however, did contribute a large amount of f-bombs to My Life Next Door which I could have done without.

Favorite quotes:

-Our house contains all that’s high-end and high-tech and shiny clean. And three people who would rather be somewhere else.

-It’s so weird sitting there in the kitchen with this woman I’ve seen from a distance for ten years. Like finding yourself in an elevator with a celebrity. I repress the urge to say “I’m a huge fan.”

-“…This is not the time for your adolescent drama.” I cannot help but wonder if any parents ever actually schedule in adolescent drama on their day planners. Looks like a slow week, Sarah. I guess I can pencil in your eating disorder.

-“…, my Sam.”

I’d seen plenty of people say that they loved My Life Next Door, but it truly was better and deeper than I expected. The layers and the depth of each character was really well planned out and executed. And I truly can’t wait to read more from Huntley Fitzpatrick. My Life Next Door gets 4 Stars from me. Have you read My Life Next Door? What did you think? Let me know!

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