Friday, June 22, 2012

Book Review: My Life Next Door by Huntley Fitzpatrick

Pages: 395
Genre: YA Realistic Fiction
Pub. Date: June 14, 2012
Source: Personal Copy
My Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Goodreads says, "“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."

Samantha Reed has always been the go-to reliable teenager; the one her mother never had to worry about.  She spends a lot of her summer nights on her balcony looking at her next door neighbors, the Garretts.  The Garretts are the opposite of her family.  First, there are a ton of them, they are messy, lively, and there's always something going on.  Samantha lives with her mother, a senator, who is strict and her older sister, who tests her mother's boundaries. Her sister is spending the summer at the Vineyard, so that leaves just Samanatha and her mother at home.  Her mom is so preoccupied with the campaign that she is pretty much never home.  This gives Samantha a lot of time to "watch" over the Garretts.  One night Jase Garrett climbs up to her balcony and they hit it off.  Her summer changes instantly.  The one catch is that her mother hates the Garretts and has pretty much forbidden her to hangout with them.  The plot thickens as Samantha and Jase's relationship progresses and she's forced to make some tough decisions.  One thing is for sure, it's a summer to remember forever.  Huntley Fitzpatrick's debut, My Life Next Door, is a captivating summer read that will delight fans of Sarah Dessen.

Samantha is a tough main character. I found myself a little bored of her whole "vanilla" routine and compared to Jase, she sort of is overshadowed by his dynamic personality.  Once Samantha started to break out of her shell, I found her to be a little more entertaining, but she isn't one to normally press the boundaries.  Jase, on the other hand, is a fabulous character and one of my favorites in My Life Next Door.  He's such a good guy and any teenage girl would dream of having someone like him climb up to their balcony.  I can see many teenagers swooning over Jase this summer.

The Garrett family is juxtaposed by the Reeds and I can't help but love the Garrett family.  There are a ton of kids, there's always something going on, there's kids running around, etc, whereas the Reeds are pretty much fake, pretentious, and boring.  Samantha's mom is one of the most annoying parental figures that I've read in young adult literature to date.  Fitzpatrick did a great job really making us hate Samantha's mom and I was always frustrated by her antics, especially when dealing with her campaign manager.  As the story progresses, Samantha's mom starts to see the light, but for a good portion of the book, I found myself rolling my eyes at her in my true teenage fashion.

My one issue with My Life Next Door is one of the main conflicts.  It comes up pretty late in the story and I wasn't sure how I felt about it.  I almost wish that either it was introduced earlier or perhaps left out.  Let's just say it's a major conflict that could take down Samantha's mom's political career in one swift motion and it will leave Samantha in a major predicament.

My Life Next Door is reminiscent of some of my favorite summer reads by Sarah Dessen.  If you are a fan of Dessen, you will love Fitzpatrick's debut.  It has everything you are looking for in a light beach read, but also a conflict that will make readers think.  It should definitely be in your beach bag this summer.


  1. I loved the Garrett family so much too Christina! Especially little George, I just wanted to reach in and hug him. And then follow him around all day just to see what would come out of his mouth:) I agree the big conflict did come late, but it kind of worked for me because Sam really needed to grow a lot to get to a place where she could make the decision she did. So glad you enjoyed it overall, fabulous review:):)

    1. I loved George too! He's such a cute character! I'm glad the conflict worked for you. You are right- she did need to grow a bit to come to her decision. Thanks for stopping by!

  2. The main conflict bugged me too. It really should have came earlier or not shown up at all. The Garrett family, however, rocked :)

    Great review, Christina!

  3. I'm thinking about reading this because Good Reads recommended it to me. I just wanted to read about what other thought of it. So thank you. :D

  4. I've really wanted to read this book ever since I saw it on net galley, and now that you've reviewed it I want to read it even more! It kind of reminds me of Romeo and Juliet (in a way) and I love how the author doesn't forget to keep with the 'family' aspect of the novel. Great review!

  5. Your review makes me more interested in reading this book. I am a big fan of Sarah Dessen and if this is similar then I'm sure I'll enjoy it. I also think the Garretts sound like a fun family.


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