Saturday, June 2, 2012

My Life Next Door by Huntley Fitzpatrick

Book:  My Life Next Door
Author:  Huntley Fitzpatrick
Publisher:  Dial Books for Young Readers
Date:  June 14, 2012
Source:  Publisher via Netgalley
My grade:  A+

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.


Initial Reaction
Dude!  I thought I was getting marshmallow fluff, but instead, I got homemade chocolate pound cake.  Still plenty sweet, but richer with LOTS of substance!

Title and Cover
 Basically, I love the title and I hate the cover.  I don’t like PDA on the covers of books.  It feels so 12-year-old-girl-version-of-a-tawdry-romance-novel-cover.

The plot, the characters etc.
I went into this one thinking that it would be a sweet summer romance about a rich girl with “that” boy.  It has that, but it has so much more.  There was the addicted best friend’s brother, the crazy, absent sister and the uppity mom who was never home.  And the Garretts.  God, how I loved the Garretts!

What was amazing to me is how Huntley Fitzpatrick managed to bring all the various threads of the story together in a way that not only made sense, but was not overwhelming for the reader.  It felt completely believable and I could follow every part of it.  It was a perfectly planned plot.  And when the bottom fell out of the perfect story, did it ever fall out!  I felt like someone had punched me in the stomach and like Samantha, I wasn’t sure what to do about it.

The characters were amazing.  I loved all the Garretts.  They were so alive!  Jase was a perfect leading man and so, so swoony!  But I loved the others also.  Mr and Mrs. Garrett were so nice if a little off-center with the 4 dozen children!  George was probably my favorite Garrett after Jase.  The precocious pre-schooler was so cute!

I liked Samantha as a protagonist.  She was a believable 17 year old girl and she was just nice.  I also found that I grew to love Tim.  It was heart wrenching to watch him fight his demons.  It was also heart wrenching to watch Nan.  They both made me feel for them so much.

I must say that Ms. Fitzpatrick writes a mean villain!  I hated Grace Reed and I hated Clay Tucker even more!  They were both reprehensible in the worst sort of ways and even at the end, I could not find myself to like Samantha’s mom.

I felt satisfied at the end, but I still wish I knew all the details about what went down.  Maybe we can get one of those e-book 1.5 deals where the author writes a short story or novella to fill in a few plot points?  Please??

I should probably mention the "sex scene".  Yes, there is talk of sex.  Yes, there is a scene where you know it is happening.  It is dealt with in a very sincere and open manner.  What I loved most though was the inner dialogue that Samantha had with herself about the decision to do it.  It was a decision that they both weighed carefully and, as a mother of a 14 year old, I appreciated the other perspective.  When Samantha wishes that she could talk to her mother, it gave me pause to reflect.  I think that I want to make sure that I  CAN have an open dialogue with my daughter about sex and the repercussions of that decision.


Oh!  This song was made for this book!

Collide by Howie Day

Of course, I like this one too, just because a) I love Jack Johnson and b) it seems that Jase turns Samantha’s world upside down.

Upside Down by Jack Johnson

The Final Grade

Run, don’t walk, to get this book on the day it releases.  My grade for this one is a huge A+.  This is a fantastic YA contemporary that has a lot of meat to it.  Plus a bit of swoon worthy romance served to the side and a nice sprinkling of realistic sex talk.  Two huge thumbs up for this one, Ms. Fitzpatrick!!!

Thanks to Dial Books and Netgalley for allowing me to read and review this book.  I received no compensation for my honest review, although I feel like I owe the publisher and author a good bit of compensation.

1 comment:

  1. To say that this was my most anticipated book of the summer would be an understatement. I was frothing at the mouth to read this book, and I can't tell you how pleased I am to say that it lived up to everything I hoped it would be, and more. I absolutely could not put this book down, and I was so sad when it ended. I just wanted more, more, more.