Title: My Life Next Door
Author: Huntley Fitzpatrick
Publisher: Dial Books for Young Readers
Release Date: June 14, 2012
"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.
With this winter feeling like it's never going to end, I needed a little pick me up and decided to start binge reading some summery contemporary books. I have so many on my shelves that just called out to me and I just needed something to make me forget about the cold and piles of snow sitting outside. And so I finally picked up Huntley Fitzpatrick's My Life Next Door. And the first thing that went through my mind as I was reading: Why didn't I read this before?! So yeah, I loved it.
Samantha Reed has spent more time than she should have sitting on her roof, looking over the fence and watching the Garrett family. The Garretts couldn't be more different from Samantha's own family: they're loud, they're messy and they're caring. Samantha always thought she would only get to observe the Garretts from afar, that is until Jase Garrett climbs up the rose trellis and joins her on her roof. Before long, Samantha can't remember what life was like before Jase and the Garretts, but she knows her mother would never approve. But when the worse happens, Samantha doesn't know who she should be loyal to anymore. Should she protect her own family, or should she help the family that's embraced her?
Um, why did I not read My Life Next Door until now? WHY?! To say I couldn't put this book down would be a major understatement. Every spare second I had was spent reading this book. I just couldn't bring my self to stop. There was just so much to love about this story that nothing I ever say about it can possibly do it justice. But I'll try. This story completely sucked me in. Right from the start I was drawn in, wanting to know all that I possibly could about the Garretts, wanting to see what would happen between Samantha and Jase. It was just everything I love in a good contemporary story. The whole time I was reading, I just had this big smile on my face. That is until Huntley Fitzpatrick threw in a twist and all of a sudden I was cursing at the book (while still loving it of course). But even through the cursing and worrying about how the story could possibly recover from this, I couldn't stop reading and loving the story. And a lot of it had to do with the characters themselves. If I'm being honest, I couldn't not fall in love with them. Not falling in love with them just wasn't a possibility.
So, the characters. I can't even begin to explain how much I loved them. Right from the start I loved Samantha. I could see just how much she longed to have a life like the one she saw next door. It wasn't so much that she was missing out on anything when it came to material things. But as much as she had everything she could possibly need, she didn't have what she wanted it. And Jase was able to give her that. And I'm not going to lie, within two pages, I was completely in love with Jase. And what did it for me was the way he treated Samantha and seeing just how much he cared about his family. I really can't put him into words. All I can say that is that he was perfect in all the ways that matter. As much as I loved Samantha and Jase, there were so many characters to love in this story, some of them even going so far as stealing the show in some moments. George, Jase's little brother, completely melted my heart any time he opened his mouth. He was just so adorable. And then there was Tim, who completely took me by surprise. I had completely written him off at first, but then he sort of came out of nowhere and, I'll admit, I may have been a little bit in love with him by the end.
I absolutely ADORED Huntley Fitzpatrick's My Life Next Door. This book was so much more than I hoped and thought it would be. It's also made me that much more excited to read Huntley Fitzpatrick's next book, What I Thought Was True. And of course, if you haven't already, don't make the same mistake I did and pick up My Life Next Door as soon as you can. It will be totally worth it.