Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Book Review: My Life Next Door (My Life Next Door #1) by Huntley Fitzpatrick

Release Date: June 14, 2012
Info about the author: Goodreads - Twitter - Website
Publisher: Dial Books for Young Readers
Age Group: YA
Pages: 394 (hardcover)
Buy the book: Amazon - Book Depository

Description (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.



MY THOUGHTS:


Samantha Reed was born to privilege. Though her father left even before she was born, her mother's sizable trust fund and a rich family have guaranteed that Samantha never has had to pinch the penny. To be honest, it seems like Samantha has always got whatever she has wanted. She has worked for some of those things, but despite that, it seems like things come very easy for her. While living her perfect seeming life, Samantha has spent large amounts of time looking to the other side of the fence, to the Garrett family, who from afar seem like a bit of a mess. These are toys all over their yard, the car and the motorcycle are never in the garage, the pool is always occupied and the number of children is ever increasing. Then one day Jase Garrett, one of "those Garrett's" much despised by Samantha's mother, makes contact with Samantha thus changing everything that has been the norm before.

Samantha is an interesting character and one I occasionally had a difficult time to like. As I said, she is extremely privileged, and though she seems like she does not care about it, occasionally it feels like she really does. There is nothing wrong with being privileged, but when it clouds some of your decisions, especially ones that are not so moral or right in any way, I think there's problems arising. When she meets Jase and the rest of the Garrett family, she realizes that her way of life isn't the only one or necessary the best one. Unlike her family, which occasionally is very distant and formal, Jase's family is all over the place, but also extremely loving and comfortable. I liked to see Samantha integrated to that family, but occasionally is just felt too easy. The parents instantly love her, the kids adore her, she has never babysat and feels like natural right away etc. Due to this, I partly felt like Samantha is "too perfect", and that is never easy to identify with.

Jase is nice, honest and loving, but like Samantha, feels too perfect. He is amazing brother, good boyfriend, hardworking son, trustworthy friend... The connection between him and Samantha is there, but it occasionally feels a bit rushed and does not really take that much time to develop. I kept waiting for something to be revealed about Jase's past that would make him a bit more approachable character, but in the end, despite the fact that he is dreamy and all, I felt no connection whatsoever towards him, which kind of took away from my reading experience. 

The one character I desperately wanted to know more about and the one I found to be the most interesting character in the whole book is Tim. He is vulnerable, has a shady past, seems to cover his real feelings with humor and just in general seems a bit lost. Whereas Jase is the perfect boy next door, Tim really is the guy "from the other side of the tracks". He has a past, but it seems like he is ready to leave that behind and look to the future and better himself. You have no idea how happy I was when I realized that Huntley Fitzpatrick is writing the sequel to My Life Next Door about Tim (the book is called The Boy Most Likely). With Tim as a main character and Sam and Jase as side characters, I feel like I will like Fitzpatrick's story way more than I did now.

Don't get me wrong, I did not hate his book or anything. I just did not feel a strong connection towards it, which usually happens with YA contemporary titles I really like. My Life Next Door is cute, quick to read and deals with some real issues from the problems within friendships to problems within families. It is well written and funny and in general very easy to read. Unfortunately it just didn't give me the "feels" I expected it to give.  But despite that, you definitely should check this one out and see what you think. 



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