Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Review: My Life Next Door by Huntley Fitzpatrick



Want to read this book? Well, you can! I’m giving away a copy of My Life Next Door along with twelve other books in my Holiday Giveaway!

Review: My Life Next Door by Huntley Fitzpatrick
Rating: ★★★1/2
 My Life Next Door
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.

When I saw the cover, the title, and the description, I expected something light, romantic, and summery. And while this book is certainly all those things, it is also deeply emotional.

Samantha lives in a beige country club world. Her mother is a state senator who puts candied lemon peel in the ice cubes of her homemade lemonade. Her world is order, neatness, and an impeccable façade. Sam is a “princess”: daughter of a single, campaigning mother with a hefty trust fund, a girl with brains and beauty who seemingly has it all.

When she meets the Garretts, a big loving family with eight kids and financial woes, both her life and this book are transformed. This family leaps right off the page. They’re just so charming. The little kids are hilarious. And then there’s Jase. 

I was worried, in the beginning, that this was sort of turning out to be insta-love, but that was only at the very beginning. Jase is a worthy romantic opposite. He’s quirky and nearly too perfect, but it’s believable, considering how wonderful his loud and messy family is. The romantic scenes are swoon-worthy in their levels of adorableness. And strangely enough, their progression felt very realistic. There are definite Romeo and Juliet undertones (and OVERTONES, especially in one cheeky scene in Sam’s room where they debate whether it’s morning or not and reference which birds are singing thought the window)

Almost right away, Samantha feels at home with the chaotic Garretts in a way she’s never felt in her own “world”. And then tragedy hits. You guys, this twist made me SICK. In a great way. It was such a dilemma, such an obstacle, such a great bit of writing. It’s the kind of plot that makes you scoff at people who claim contemporary is boring. 

Clay, Mrs. Reed’s campaign-manager-cum-boyfriend, is absolutely horrendous in the best way possible. All the characters felt right on point, with my particular favorites being Tim, Sam’s troubled family friend, and George, Jase’s four-year-old brother. I would read a whole book about Tim.

Samantha’s relationship with Nan, her best friend and Tim’s sister, is also beautiful and sad in how realistic it is. This book broke my heart so many times. But the message of family and love and making the right choices comes through so strongly in the end. Samantha is a great character who grows a lot. Her inner monologues range from wise to emotional to wryly hilarious. There are a lot of lines in here that made me laugh out loud. From her description, you would think she'd be difficult to connect to, being a rich blond girl who seemingly gets whatever she wants, but I loved her. And you understand why Jase and the Garretts lover her too.

This is a mature book about mature characters. Samantha is a girl I love. She’s worried about real things. She feels like an actual seventeen-year-old, and yet she has none of the whiny angst that typifies a lot of YA. She has serious conflicts and must make serious choices. Simply put, I loved this book. I will definitely check out what Fitzpatrick writes next.

Note: this is high YA. This means there’s swearing, allusions to drug abuse, instances of sexual activity, and violent content. Not a big deal to me at all, but just a note, if that bothers you.

16 comments:

  1. I saw this book and instantly wrote it off as a stereotypical Romeo and Juliet retelling, but your review made me change my mind and I am definitely going to check it out!

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    1. I had my fears about that too, initially. I think Fitzpatrick helped dissuade me by openly pointing out the R and J similarities. Then the plot shoots off in a totally different direction that's about so much more that 'opposite side of the tracks'. Hope you end up reading it!

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    2. By dissuade, I mean assuage.

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  2. I kept going back and forth if I wanted to read this, but decided a week ago I would. Now you made my decision even more final! Great review :)

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    1. I was doubtful in the beginning, to be honest. I smelled INSTA-LOVE and that is one of my pet peeves. But I really did love this book. It was just what I needed and very well-written.

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  3. I have wanted to read this one for a while. I need to hurry up and get to it!! Great review!

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    1. Thanks! I think it's definitely worth reading.

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  4. Arghh! I have to get this book, i keep seeing reviews everywhere ... I just need it ... really badly. I'll find a way. Awesome review, thanks! (:

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    1. I'm sure you'll get to it at some point. It was pretty addicting, too. Once I started I pretty much didn't stop. Hope you like it as much as I did!

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  5. I am SOOO excited to read this book! <3 I've had my eyes on it for a while, but was never sure if I really should read it. I'm definitely giving it a chance now. I like contemporaries, especially those for more mature audiences. It's hard to come across them at times.

    I'd love to recommend two more mature contemps to you: Pushing The Limits by Katie McGarry, as well as EASY by Tammara Webber which is a new adult book and in my top 3 of 2012!

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    1. I've heard really good things about Pushing the Limits! I'll definitely get on that, thanks for the rec. And your timing is impeccable- I am reading Easy AT THIS VERY MOMENT!

      If you like contemporary, I'd give this book a shot. I really loved it.

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  6. I absolutely adored this book and the family she wrote about. I appreciate hearing your thoughts and also will be checking out more books by this author!

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    1. Weren't the Garretts the BEST? I adored them too.

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  7. This book! I want to read it so badly. Aside from reading good reviews and liking the summary, I love the cover. Apparently I have a thing for book covers that look like they've been instagrammed. I'm okay with it. I always love when reviewers talk about insta-love, because these days it's in EVERYTHING and it's nice to be reassured that it's not the case here :)

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    1. YES it does look instagrammed! I like that too. It feels authentic. And yeah, I always have my insta-love sensors on high. I'm very wary of it, and I think it's pretty skillfully skirted in this book. It almost goes there, but their relationship is based on a bit more.

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  8. loved this sweet romance. it wasn't perfect, but an enjoyable read and i'm looking forward to more from Huntley Fitzpatrick.

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