Saturday, 13 July 2013
Review: My Life Next Door by Huntley Fitzpatrick
Format: Hardcover / paperback
Released: June 14th, 2012
“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?
I've been wanting to read My Life Next Door for about a year now, ever since it was first published in hardcover. I finally caved in and bought a copy a couple of weeks ago, and I'm so glad I did. I read it straight away and I'm still in that dreamy state of sighing that inevitably accompanies a good YA contemporary read. I'm also head over heels in love with Jase, who I wish was real and actually lived next door to me. Swoon.
Samantha Reed has lived next door to the Garrett family for years, always watching them - a chaotic family of eight - from her balcony. She's seen Jase around, but has never spoken to him or his family before, thanks to her mother's dislike for anyone with the surname Garrett. One day all that changes, as Jase sits next to her and starts a conversation. Nothing is ever the same again, for either family, and nothing ever can be.
Fitzpatrick is a brilliant writer, perfectly capturing the intense feelings of lust and first love, along with all the confusion and uncertainty that comes with it. Sam and Jase are absolutely brilliant together - one of my new favourite YA couples - and every scene they shared sparkled like a sunrise. Their chemistry is palpable on the page; they're in love and that's all there is to it. And it's not cheesy or instant either, instead it slowly grows and becomes more serious as the days go on. I love both of them and I wish I knew them!
One of the unexpected highlights of this book is Jase's larger-than-life family, especially his little brother George. They're do down to earth and normal, caring only about living life and having fun doing so. They're not the richest people, they don't have amazing jobs, but they're happy and content, which is more than can be said for Sam's mother. She's a politician, and firmly has her head stuck somewhere it shouldn't be. She's a complete snob, looking down on anyone she thinks is beneath her. It's such a negative contrast to the Garrett family, but it's something that is so important to the story and gives a better insight into Sam's decision making process.
My Life Next Door went in a direction I wasn't expecting, but one that strangely fit the characters and their stories. It's a bit of a shocker at first - not necessarily in a bad way - it's just not what I expected.This book is almost four-hundred pages long but it doesn't feel like it; the pages practically move themselves in a desperate attempt to find out what is going to happen. It's *that* addictive. I know a few other readers had a problem with the abrupt ending, but I didn't mind it. No, there isn't a resolute feeling of closure, but I'm hoping that's because there might be a sequel one day. I'm dying to go back to Sam and Jase and their crazy families so, if you're listening, Huntley Fitzpatrick - more please!
This book is perfect for anyone who likes YA contemporary, from Lisa Schroeder to Sarah Dessen. It's a shiny gem just waiting to be found, read and devoured from cover to cover, and then read again. It's well written, realistic and, if possible, much better than I ever thought it could be. Oh, and have I mentioned Jase? I have? Good. Because I want one.