June 14th 2012
395 pages (hardcover)
Dial Books for Young Readers
Source - Netgalley
“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?
From the rooftop of Samantha Reed's house, the Garrett's seem completely unlike her own privileged family. So, when she gets the chance to step into a world she's only looked in on from the outside, she takes it. Soon enough, she finds herself falling in love with each of them, Jase most of all. Yet, her mother's race to be reelected as Senator keeps tensions high at home, and Samantha's struggling to find balance between the life her mother expects and the life Samantha experiences next door with the Garrett's. But when an unforgivable act occurs, she has to decide: should she tell the truth, or keep a terrible secret?
My Life Next Door is a surprising debut. It begins with a sweet romance that builds and grows with each page. Fitzpatrick takes care to flesh out each character, making it all the easier to enjoy them. Samantha's fascination with the Garrett family is infectious, especially once she becomes a part of their lives. While budding young love is large part of the story, familial relationships and friendships become equally important once they are tested as the line between what's right and what's wrong grows more painstakingly obvious after tragedy strikes. A heartfelt and endearing story, My Life Next Door is sure to be a hit.
Highlights: The relationship between Samantha and Jase1 was surprisingly enjoyable, despite the quickness. Interactions with the Garrett's were my favorite part of this book. Side characters were very nicely written (especially Tim, Clay, the Garrett's), because each had their own personalities with flaws and strengths. Even Grace (Samantha's very strict and slightly scary mother) proved to be more complex than I imagined.
Lowlights: The conflict the summary hints at took place very late, around 3/4 into the story. It was frustrating to deal with the shift in tone once it arrived. I felt like I was reading a different story after the conflict happened. I enjoyed the book more before that part of the story arrived2.
Note: References to drugs, alcohol, et cetera. Some cursing, mostly by Tim. A (safe) sex scene.
1 *swoons over Jase*2 A compelling conflict, but it felt like it was happening too late in the story to make a genuine impact on me. It was annoying to know something bad was going to happen and have to wait so long for it. Honestly, I'm probably in the minority on this point.