Book Review: My Life Next Door by Huntley Fitzpatrick

25 Jun

Book cover for My Life Next Door by Huntley FitzpatrickTitle: My Life Next Door

Author: Huntley Fitzpatrick

Genre: Contemporary YA

Publisher: Dial 

Release date: June 14, 2012

Challenge: Debut Author Challenge, Completely Contemporary Challenge

Source: NetGalley

Summary: “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?

Guys, I feel like 2012 has been the year of the killer contemp. Does anyone else feel like this? I’ve been reading lots of contemporaries lately, and truthfully, they’ve (mostly) all been pretty awesome. I haven’t read ALL of them, obviously, but I find myself generally super pleased with the ones I have read, and that makes me excited to read MORE. MY LIFE NEXT DOOR, the debut from Huntley Fitzpatrick, is a great example of not only a beyond-solid contemporary, but a majorly promising debut as well. More from you, please, Huntley!!

MY LIFE NEXT DOOR tells the story of two next-door neighbors in a wealthy Connecticut town–one, Samantha, lives with her local politician mom and older sister in a pretty cold, aloof, sterile house. Her mom is obsessed with appearances and is taking her anal tendencies EXTRA seriously now that she is running for state senate. As a result of her controlled, emotionless home environment, spends lots of time observing the neighbors, the loud, numerous, loving Garretts, one of whom is a boy named Jase. There’s drama–and I mean REAL, serious drama–between their families as MY LIFE NEXT DOOR comes to its conclusion, and Jase and Samantha are tested, both individually and together. SERIOUSLY good stuff, guys.

So, at the heart of all good contemps is a good, believable, swoonworthy couple. Jase and Samantha are that. Without them and their relationship, MY LIFE NEXT DOOR is not nearly as good. They have that palpable instant flirty attraction that they could never hope to keep a secret from people for long. Which kind of sucks considering that Samantha’s ambitious mom looks down her snobby WASP nose at the Garretts and their brood of children (there are 6 of them), messy lawn, and just overall loudness. But I LOVED Samantha and Jase. There really isn’t any tension when it comes to them getting together, which if I’m being honest, was kind of refreshing to me. They’re together before the book is even halfway done, so we’re not left guessing how long it’s going to take for them to kiss. Nope. There’s some of that action pretty early on (HOLLA!). I appreciated that the drama in their relationship came more from how they would get through things together, because they’re a pretty strong couple. ALSO, there’s sexytimes. They are LEGIT, but also sweet and responsible and frankly addressed. (I’m a pretty huge fan of the scene where they go condom shopping together.) Props, Huntley Fitzpatrick.

Of course, though, I mentioned serious drama before, and there is some of that, too, and it tests Jase and Samantha’s relationship. Because it’s personal. Familial. See, Samantha’s mom has hired this total shark–a snake in the weeds–political advisor for her campaign,Clay. Except her mom didn’t just hire him. She’s basically letting him take over her campaign, and getting some from him on the side. The major dramatic event in MY LIFE NEXT DOOR concerns a thing that happens to the Garretts because of Samantha’s mom, and then there’s a cover-up thanks to Clay. There’s secrets and hospitals and lies and it’s generally pretty shitty, if I may say so. I wasn’t a huge fan of Samantha’s mom to being with. She’s cold, and totally focused on herself, harsh, judgmental, and talks crap about the Garretts behind their backs. This business didn’t improve my opinion of her, and it CERTAINLY solidified by opinion of Clay as a smarmy asshat.

Thankfully, though, even though the act itself is pretty dastardly, it made for a good story, and Huntley Fitzpatrick did a great job of  taking a pretty horrible thing and making it good drama. And of course, she made sure that Jase and Samantha really shone, together and separately. Guys? Jase? He’s pretty much shooting up my list of all-time YA boyfriends. He’s ADORABLE, sweet with his little brothers, funny, warm, understanding, and he’s so good to Samantha. For her part, Samantha is pretty awesome, too. She’s smart, supportive, friendly, and tries to always do the right thing, even when it’s hard. But she struggles, and I appreciated that, too. I’m a big fan of them, in general, and I think you will be too.

MY LIFE NEXT DOOR by Huntley Fitzpatrick is one of the warmest, most wonderful debuts I’ve read so far this year. I LOVED the Garretts and their gaggle of open-hearted, protective, supportive kids. I LOVED how flirty-cute the parents still were with each other. And I loved how Samantha didn’t seem to need to MAKE a place for herself in Jase’s family, so much as she needed to just realize that she HAD one already. That’s how warm and awesome the Garretts were. Samantha’s family left a little to be desired, but I still saw love there between them, and hoped that Samantha and her mom would patch things up.

I’m definitely looking forward to more from Huntley Fitzpatrick, guys. Like, lots more. I’d read anything she wrote, friends.

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11 Responses to “Book Review: My Life Next Door by Huntley Fitzpatrick”

  1. Stephanie @ Read in a Single Sitting June 25, 2012 at 3:04 am #

    I love the sound of this one, and I’m with you about the great contemporaries–such a relief after all the paranormal stuff I’ve been reviewing of late. I hadn’t heard of this one before, but definitely plan to check it out now.

  2. beckireads June 25, 2012 at 5:43 am #

    This sounds like a really brilliant read. I wanted to read it before I read your review, now I want to read it more 🙂

  3. Brittany June 25, 2012 at 8:48 am #

    Gah, I keep seeing this everywhere. I want to read it so badly!!

  4. celialarsen June 25, 2012 at 9:37 am #

    The cover of this one totally caught my eye, and I’ve heard nothing but good things about it since then. It’s going on the ‘to read at the beach’ list! Nice review.

  5. fakesteph June 25, 2012 at 9:49 am #

    I love this book too! And I can’t wait to reread it! Sigh. So good!

  6. Alvie June 26, 2012 at 7:34 am #

    Never read it but it seems interesting! Check out Teenage Fiction if you can?

  7. Elizabeth June 26, 2012 at 3:51 pm #

    You’ve got me totally excited for this one now! I’d been curious, but wasn’t sure how well it would actually hold up– glad to know it was actually good!

  8. Alexa Loves Books (@alexalovesbooks) June 28, 2012 at 2:03 pm #

    I loved this book as much as you did and that makes me so happy! And Jase would totally be in my top 10 YA boyfriends ❤

  9. megtao June 28, 2012 at 5:38 pm #

    Okay, fine. You and April have convinced me. Onto my TBR this one goes.

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Top Ten Tuesday (34) « Tripping Over Books - July 3, 2012

    […] Life Next Door by Huntley Fitzpatrick. Guys, I’m going to warn you right now: get used to seeing this book name-dropped around these parts. It has all of the best aspects of Jennifer Echols’ books–and great […]

  2. Top Ten Tuesday (56) « - December 18, 2012

    […] know what one of my FAVORITE things about YA contemps is? I love it when they’re real. I know, I know: “DUH AMY. It’s a contemp. It’s SUPPOSED to be real. […]

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