Review: My Life Next Door

My Life Next Door by Huntley Fitzpatrick
Release Date ~ June 14, 2012
Dial Books for Young Readers ~ Penguin
ISBN13: 9780803736993
E-galley received from publisher via Net Galley
Goodreads Synopsis:
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.

I've already mentioned this to a few people, but My Life Next Door is TOTALLY reminiscent of Sarah Dessen's The Truth About Forever - which is not only my favourite Sarah Dessen book (seriously, I'm such a fangirl) but one of my favourite books of ALL TIME.

So just picture my epic excitement when I pick up this highly anticipated new contemporary YA release only to discover that it completely reminds me of one of my FAVOURITE books. But yet still different enough to stand all on its own. My Life Next Door is one of those perfect summer reads that will leave you itching for a reread as soon you've finished it.

  1. One of the best, most realistic romances I've ever read:

    Huntley Fitzpatrick seriously blew me out of the water with her portrayal of Jase and Sam's relationship; I LOVE that we don't spend hundreds of pages agonizing over whether they'll get together or not. I adore how strong and trusting and open they are with each other; they really want to build on a strong foundation for their relationship, and they put effort into figuring things out and trying to work together. It's beautiful and flawed but so real, and something that many people could actually aspire to. And Jase is just such a sweetheart- so reasonable and thoughtful, and Sam is so quietly strong and brave in her own way. They just MESH and I love them. And I think you will too!
  2. Plus, that romance? SA-WOON:

    (If you don't get that reference, you really need to read The Truth About Forever ASAP.) I hesitated making TWO of the reasons worth reading this about the romance, but Huntley does steamy well - yet still kind of awkward and sweet, all rolled into one.
  3. A gorgeous story about growing up:

    Here's what's really key about the book though, is how much Sam changes and develops over the course of the novel. Much like Macy (in Truth About Forever), Sam is perfectly put together, organized, driven, and lives directly under her mother's thumb. But of course this isn't enough and she's longing for something more. So something has to change, something eventually has to give and conveniently enough, the Garrets next door are complete opposite from her own family. Sam learns so much about growing up and what happiness and love means - and not easily, either, mind you. They're hard lessons for her and those around her to learn but it's incredibly touching & ultimately, unforgettable.
Most importantly though, is this idea of acceptance and appreciating or tolerating something different from your own norms. And how poignant that theme is - and at such the right time as well. The Garretts and the Reeds are completely different - but as Sam learns, that isn't necessarily a bad thing.

My Life Next Door doesn't QUITE hold the same charm that The Truth About Forever does, perhaps partially because of nostalgia on my part and partially because I think some of the secondary characters could have been fleshed out a bit more. And I wasn't entirely sure about how I felt with the conclusion; in some areas, I thought it was just right and ideal, but in others it didn't feel quite whole and rather unresolved.

But this is a remarkable contemporary, a perfect summer read of change and transition that is sure to be loved by many readers for a very long time. <3 Sam and Jase's feelings are utterly contagious, much like the rest of this book!

Purchase Links
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Natalie said...

I've been DYING to get my hands on a copy of this book! Unfortunately the library hasn't purchased a copy :( Guess I'll have to go to Chapters and pick one up! Great review as always!

penmanshipsmitten said...

I love how the realism of their relationship is the first thing you noticed about this novel. I TOTALLY agree. I couldn't get over how Jase and Sam were mature, but in a believable way, and even when they had issues, they did try to get past them. And YES, the way they got to know each other, the way their relationship stems from friendship, which stemmed from intrigue, is what drew me to this novel in the first place (and why it reminded me so much of The Truth About Forever). It's the way Macy and Wes fell in love - slowly, and just a little more after every encounter and intriguing conversation. SA-WOON indeed.

Samantha's growth as a character was definitely my favorite aspect of My Life Next Door too. I love how the book took me by surprise and ended up being about more than just the romance, even though the romance itself was too freaking adorable.

Haha, I actually spent time comparing this book to The Truth About Forever thoroughly too. I think the main difference, the reason why TTAF is more charming, is definitely the secondary characters, like you pointed out, but also a better... distribution of conflict? Wes and Jase are similar in the type of relationship they have with their respective girlfriends, but Wes and Macy are friends longer, and the plot is well-paced. My Life Next Door started that way, but with the additional conflicts/twists towards the end, the tone kind of changed abruptly, as did the charm (just a little). And yeah, parts of it felt kind of unresolved, whereas TTAF has a more... conclusive ending (or at least, its ending worked better and felt more whole).

It was still incredibly adorable and a perfect summer raed. Greaet review!

Lexie said...

Ahhh! I'm so happy you loved this one. I've heard a million fantastic things, and it sounds like such a sweet, poignant contemporary. I am definitely going to check this one out. Fabulous review!

The Vintage Bookworm said...

Great review! I'm glad you loved this one. I've been DYING to read it and I love the cover. I'll definitely need to pick it up ASAP. Thanks for sharing!

Books Worth Remembering said...

Awesome review! I've heard so many great things about this book and it just looks amazing. I loved The Truth About Forever too, it's definitely my favourite Sarah Dessen, although I haven't read that many. I can't wait to read this!

Now for a hard question - Jase or Wes? :P

Side note: This is my first time visiting your blog! I love it, it's beautiful :)

Christina said...

I've seen some people hating this book and it made me so sad because I have been nigh desperate to read it ever since I saw the cover, which, for some reason, I completely adore. I hope I feel like you do!

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