February 3, 2013

Review: My Life Next Door by Huntley Fitzpatrick

Title: My Life Next Door
Author: Huntley Fitzpatrick
Release Date: June 14th, 2012
Publisher: Dial Books For Young Readers
Page Count: 394
Source: Purchased
Rating: ★★★★☆
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 Source: Goodreads]

Oh, book. You're that awkward friend in the group I think is really nice but don't have anything to do with until a year or so into whatever social setting we've found ourselves in, when I find out you're AWESOME and then we're best friends forever.

Let's break this down: 

The basic plot is as follows: Samantha's this uptight chick who watches her neighbors in a vaguely creepy fashion until one day she's pulled deep into the madness. I'm not entirely sure why Jase never approached Samantha before that point, years after the Garretts first moved in next door, but I can't say I'm unhappy they FINALLY met because what ensues is a slew of incredible life changing events, both good and bad.

Just to talk about the pacing and plot of the book for a sec: The first, oh, I don't know, 250 pages of this one are pretty slow. I didn't dislike said slowness. A semi-functional, healthy relationship is wonderful to read about, if not a little boring (let's face it, we all thrive on the drama).

But when this book picks up, man does it pick up. I did not even for a second see said twist coming and when it hit me, I was like !!!!!!!!!!!! times a million. I was totally gutted and it wasn't until the very last page with the shaky resolution that I was able to breath again. I think I occasionally forget what REALLY feeling a book is like until it smacks me in the face and I'm just like YESYESYES. And then it all washes away and I have to wait until the next OMFG book comes around to remember again. There's no formula. I can't tell you how it happens. But it's phenomenal and terrible when it hits you, y'know? So I guess the slowness at the start of the book is vaguely forgivable based on the amazingness of the end of this book.

Feels about the plot aside, I'm into Samantha and Jase. They're super cute together and apart. Not to mention Jase deserves all of the hearts. And I adore all of the Garretts and Tim, who make up this delightful supporting cast that not only prop up Jase and Samantha but also all lean against each other in such a delightful way. I'm also really into the Nan plot point. She's the bad best friend with a twist. Which is great because I'm sick of the bad best friend just being bad for the sake of plot point. Nan really represents the fact that people DO drift and that BFFs aren't necessarily always going to BFFs and that's okay. You don't always get closure. Sometimes things just have to end. As for Samantha's mom - she's not just the terrible, awful mom. It's the same way Nan's not just the typical bad best friend. They both have more depth than that, which lends the book additional amazingness.

As for the prose, I think because of how slow the beginning of this book was for me, I sometimes felt like the words were a little clumsy. Like, the flow wasn't quite there. But it was very true to Samantha and Jase's teen-ness. So even though it wasn't how I wanted it, it also wasn't not how I wanted it. Does that make sense? I hope it does, because I have no idea how else to phrase it.

Anyway, I totally adore this book. It had all of the feels, if not all of the pacing and flow-y-ness. It's kind of like how I love The Avengers movie not for the first hour of that movie, but for the last hour of it. The beginning of both My Life Next Door and The Avengers try so hard to explain stuff, and in both cases it's well done, but it's not until THINGS START TO HAPPEN that I'm all like, THIS IS GREAT, TELL ME MORE. That being said, I saw The Avengers twice in theaters and maybe 4 other times after that. So, that bodes well for my future with this book, I would say.

The long and short of it?

 Not sure I get why Samantha and Jase never hooked up before, but I'm ALSO not sure I care.
World Building: A lovely take on a very understated and totally wonderful Romeo and Juliet type story.
Character Development: Love everyone. They all go through this gradual, lovely transition. Even Jase, who's kind of my own personal Boy Wonder.
Prose: A little stiff, but not too problematic.
Would I Recommend This Book?: If you like contemporary with all the feels, this book is SO definitely for you.

Tell me, would you rather be a Garrett or a Reed? And for the really tough question: Who do you love more, Tim or Jase? I know I make it sound like I love Jase more, but I'm not even sure that's true. Be sure to let me know about all of your feels in the comments below!


  1. Jase forever <3 That is all.


    I loved this book! I read it last summer when it first came out, and I just fell in love with it. It's a quiet story, but it's so so beautiful.

    1. I love that. It really is a quiet story. I love it. And Jase :)

  2. The beginning was too slow for me, but the second the action started I was intrigued too. Great review!

    1. I hear you about the beginning. I got all anxious but then I got totally into it. It was breathtaking, the ending.

  3. What? You possibly like Tim more than Jase? But... but... Jase! *pats self on back for brilliance in argument*
    I wasn't actually a fan of the Big Drama twist, although I didn't exactly hate it, and I kept on devouring the book right up. It's just... I felt like it didn't add that much to the characters, you know? But maybe that's just me.
    I love it when family is presented positively in YA, and the Garrett clan are just wonderful (and George is ADORABLE). I think it would be cool if Fitzpatrick wrote a companion novel for this from Joel's perspective, just because he and Jase would make an interesting contrast (and yeah, OK, because I want to see more glimpses of Sam and Jase too). And I liked the depiction of Sam-and-Nan's friendship, and Sam-and-Tim's. Because I so agree with you, in real life, friends do drift apart. Like, I'm not really friends anymore with any of my high school friends, even though we were so close at school. And that's the way real life goes, sometimes. (But not for Sam and Jase. They are not allowed to drift apart EVER).

    1. A very good argument, to be sure.

      And you're right, Same and Jase are NEVER allowed to drift. Evereverever. ;)


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