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.
(Summary from GoodReads)
The girl or boy next door is a frequently used trope in movies and music, and Huntely Fitzpatrick uses it again in her debut novel My Life Next Door. Samantha and Jase have been lifelong neighbors, but have never spoken until one summer when Jase climbs onto Samantha’s roof. My Life Next Door has a sweet romance and will be the perfect summer read for some, but didn’t strike me as the type of book teens would connect with very well.
I adored this book during the first 40 pages. I totally wouldn’t have minded growing up in a family like Jase’s—chaotic, but filled with love. The romance between Samantha and Jase started off as very sweet and enjoyable. Towards the end I felt that it was less so. While it still had believable elements, somewhere along the line the pacing of the romance started to feel wrong.
Obviously Jase’s and Samantha’s mothers are pretty major players in this story. What the summary doesn’t mention is Ms. Reed’s creepy boyfriend, Clay. I won’t spoil the book, but I will say that Clay played a much larger role than I expected, particularly in the novel’s climax.
Honestly, I think Clay’s character is where My Life Next Door starts to take a turn for the worse. I’d say his character his overwritten—sure, he’s supposed to be sleazy, but Fitzpatrick emphasized these qualities a bit too much. The climax and his involvement in it felt more like something you’d expect to see on a soap opera than in a YA novel.
Despite my complaints, I didn’t hate My Life Next Door. It’s a sweet novel about family and first love, but Fitzpatrick’s characters and plot just didn’t strike me as something that would work for a lot of teen readers. I know this worked for a lot of other people, though, so check out these reviews as well.