Release Date: 06/14/12
Synopsis from goodreads.com:
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.
My thoughts on the book:
This is one of the best contemporaries I've ever read. Normally I like a dramatic plot, either paranormally driven or tragically driven. This plot, however, is mostly happy, and when I finished the novel, I was left with a content feeling. This is very much a feel-good book. There are ups and downs, and a dramatic build-up at the end that kept me on the edge of my seat, but overall, this novel just made me happy. I'd recommend My Life Next Door to anyone who wants to read a relaxing, feel-good summer story.
There are a lot of characters in My Life Next Door. Jase's family alone consists of eight children and two parents. Additionally, Samantha has a sister, a best friend, the best friend's brother, a mother, and the mother's boyfriend is integral to the plot as well. However, it wasn't hard to keep the characters straight because Fitzpatrick managed to create an insane amount of unique, well-developed characters. Each character has his or her own quirks and stands out. Furthermore, the characters are believable, flawed, and easy to relate to. I could understand everyone's motivations but Clay's (the mother's boyfriend). Also, Samantha, the narrator and leading character, grew so much throughout the course of the novel. She made plenty of mistakes along the way, but in the end, she was better for it. I found that I cared about her, her family, and her friends, and wanted the best for everyone.
Samantha is a likable character, and she tries very hard to do the right thing. From the outside looking in, it seems that she's had an easy life. In many ways she has, but people sometimes resent her and judge her harshly for this. Jase, however does not. Jase's family, the Garrett's are constantly struggling financially. He never seems to resent Samantha, though. He is the perfect love interest because he's caring, compassionate, and responsible. He's a hard worker and an all around good person. He does have his flaws, as everyone does, but they are few and far between. He really cares about Samantha and wants to do what's best for her. It's impossible not to root for them to overcome their obstacles and remain together.
The plot is interesting, but not intense. I never once got bored, but the first 70% of the book is just establishing Jase's and Samantha's relationship. Things are not rushed with them and there is no insta-love (thankfully). The relationship develops at a natural pace, and the reader gets to observe all of the milestones. Because of the relationship's pacing, it comes across as believable and healthy. Also, the focus on Sam and Jase's relationship allows the reader to see how Samantha changes because of Jase. When the suspenseful scene begins, it's almost impossible to believe. However, Samantha and Jase needed to be tested. It wouldn't have been much of a novel without a huge obstacle to overcome, right? Nevertheless, I was extremely worried about how things would turn out.
There is some swearing in the novel, and people do have sex (though the scenes are not graphic). Also, there is drug use and underage drinking done by some of the characters. However, the novel does not glamorize any of these things, and especially with the drug use, it shows how drugs and alcohol can ruin lives. The only reason I mentioned these things was to give you guys an idea of what to expect. I know everyone has different comfort levels when it comes to what they read. None of the stuff bothered me, but I'm pretty liberal. And as I said, nothing was glamorized, graphic, or trashy.
Overall, I'd recommend this book to pretty much anyone. My Life Next Door is one of those books that leaves you feeling content after you read it. The story is touching and the characters are well-developed. I read this book in one day, even though it's close to 400 pages long, and I wasn't bored once. If you want a fun summer read, then pick up My Life Next Door. You won't regret it.
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