Title: My Life Next Door
Author: Huntley Fitzpatrick
Genre: YA, Family, Romance
Publication Date: 14th June 2012
Summery : 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.
My Life Next Door is a classic young/new adult contemporary Romance – boy meets girl and they fall in love. Sam Reed lives next door to the Garretts, a family of eight children that her mother frowns upon form the shiny windows of their perfect home. After years of watching them, Sam finally comes face to face with the third oldest, Jase. Jase and Sam go on a journey of learning lessons about life, love and family with some tough decisions to face with their parents.
I specifically loved that this book covered a lot of little topics instead of one big problem – like that was all that mattered. It discussed a range of things that all teenagers will have to go through growing up, from losing friends to losing your V card. Reading novels like this would have definitely helped me a lot when I was younger.
As I’m getting a little bit older I’ve noticed my tastes in fiction changing a little bit, I’m steering away from the YA contemporary romances and switching to harder hitting and coming of age novels. This means that to begin with I was a little bored with this novel because I felt like I’d read so many similar things before in the sense of teenage love stories. Whereas it was sweet and (thankfully) realistic, it was a little lack luster. I thought that my tastes had changed until I got about half way through and I literally couldn’t put it down!
My Life Next Door is a summer romance with a little more depth. Jase and Samantha don’t have a perfect relationship with perfect home lives, it’s actually very far from it. That’s what makes this novel a little bit more believable and likeable. They have good chemistry with each other and interaction doesn’t seem as dry as some other romances that I’ve read. It can be difficult reading some YA novels when you’re that little bit older than a young adult – the characters can seem immature and annoying. Luckily Sam and Jase have their heads screwed on tight and it made it a much more fun read.
The one thing I love reading about is a good family support with mix of characters. Huntley Fitzpatrick achieved both of those things perfectly in her pretty much flawless writing. Again YA novels can seem a little annoyingly written when the protagonist is seventeen but the writing style made the scenes flow well and keep me interested. She included a range of characters from drunken and stoned Tim to perfect Grace.
My one little niggle that I can’t shake about this novel is the loose ends that weren’t tied up by the end. I understand that not all writers want their novels to be completed in every way. However as (as far as I’m aware) this is a standalone novel I feel like some things should have been finalised, such as Sam’s friendship with her best friend Nan. This is only a small complaint but it’s just left me wondering frustratedly what happens to everyone at the end! Luckily there is a lot of time put in to building up all of the characters, Sam’s friends, the Garrett siblings, Sam’s family… it just would have been nice to find out what happened to some of those important characters.
My Life Next Door has been categorised many times under ‘Young Adult’ and I can see why. However there are a few scenes and specifically one mildly detailed sex scene which I don’t think should be present in a young adult book. I’d say this novel is more on the ‘new adult’ side.
If you’re looking for an easy, interesting read in the summer time then I’d definitely pick this book up. Each character is likeable, despite their flaws and the tension between the two families definitely keeps you interested and wanting more. Jase and Sam are also loveable without it being unrealistic! Whereas I didn’t feel much for this novel (it’s not something that I will carry with me for the rest of my life) it was definitely worth a read and made me have those little happy butterflies every time Jase smiled at Sam lazily.