Review - My Life Next Door - Huntley Fitzpatrick

My Life Next Door (My Life Next Door, #1)Title: My Life Next Door
Series: My Life Next Door #1
Author: Huntley Fitzpatrick
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary
Publication: June 14th 2012, Dial Books
Pages: 394 Pages, Paperback
Source: My Own
Rating: 4/5  CUPCAKES!
"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, messy, affectionate. And every day from her rooftop perch, Samantha Reed wishes she was one of them . . . until one summer evening, Jase Garrett climbs up next to her and changes everything.
As the two fall fiercely for each other, stumbling through the awkwardness and awesomeness of first love, Jase's family embraces Samantha - even as she keeps him a secret from her own. Then something unthinkable happens, and the bottom drops out of Samantha's world. She's suddenly faced with an impossible decision. Which perfect family will save her? Or is it time she saved herself?
A transporting debut about family, friendship, first romance, and how to be true to one person you love without betraying another.
I didn't have anything to post, so I scrolled through my drafts and I saw quite a few reviews from 2013/2014 that I had forgotten about. Excuse the quality of this review. THANK GOODNESS MY WRITING HAS IMPROVED.

I finally read it. Since I first saw this book, I have been dying to read it. I love contemporaries, I love books that deal with big families and I especially adore books to do with falling in love with the boy next door. I absolutely adored this book and I'm so happy that I was finally able to read it!

My Life Next Door is about 17 year old Samantha Reed, daughter of the town's senator. Samantha is rich and beautiful, and viewed as the girl who has it all, yet her life isn't as perfect as it seems. She lives with her older, rebellious sister and her single mother who, at times, is more interested in politics than being involved in her daughters' lives. Then Samantha still has to deal with the emptiness that accompanies her father walked out on the family, although it was before she was born.

So Samantha spends her free time observing the Garret family that live next door. The family who moved in ten years ago, but whom Samantha still hasn't been able to talk to, due to her mom's disapproval of the Garret's raucous behavior. The Garret's are everything that the Reed family are not. They are loud, loving and chaotic and just managing to get by on the income from Mr. Garret's lumber/tool shop business, whereas the Reed's own a huge, impeccable house and have more money than they need.

However, when Samantha's world collides with Jase Garret's one night and they fall head-over-heels in love, Samantha soon becomes part of the Garret household. Yet when the unthinkable happens and tragedy strikes, Samantha will have to think hard between making the right decision, making the wrong one could ultimately destroy both the families that she loves.

This book was amazing and I absolutely adored it. A lot of contemporaries that I have read have been enjoyable but have lacked a certain depth...My Life Next Door is not one of those. I thought this was going to be a quick summer read yet I was nicely surprised with the depth this book contained. There were some heavy issues, such as substance addiction, jealousy, friendships unraveling, as well as the fine line between the right and wrong. I think that the author tackled these issues in a sensitive manner and dealt with them very well!

Our main character is Samantha, rich, beautiful, the good girl. I absolutely loved Samantha. Despite coming from a wealthy background, she was extremely down-to-earth and the complete opposite to her condescending mother. I actually forgot Samantha came from this wealthy background until it was mentioned again. She was also such sweet, gentle character that was focused on doing the right things and making the right choices.

Jase...*sigh* I think he's my new book boyfriend. He was just so sweet, loving and positive and so good to his family and Samantha. I love it when guys in books are genuinely nice and don't always have this "bad-boy" persona. However, I do think that the author could've written him as a more protective character. Jase has three sisters, one who is nearly my age, as well as one that is slightly older and one that is a baby. I have an older brother who is extremely protective and so are some of my friends' brothers concerning them. Especially as they are such a close family, I think it would've made it more realistic if Jase wasn't as nonchalant about what his sisters were doing etc.

Samantha and Jase make a perfect couple. I love how they complete each other and how alike and well-suited they are. There have been plenty of books that I have read where the characters lack chemistry, but you can feel the chemistry between them and it added even more enjoyment to the book!

Then there is Tim and Nan. Nan, over-achiever and best friend of Samantha with a dark secret involving her success in school work. Tim, Nan's troubled brother, a boy who was going places but is now in a constant state of being hungover and stoned. These characters added a lot to the story and they made it even more interesting at times.

I liked Nan at first and thought she was very sweet but I soon saw her true nature. I won't say anymore, as I don't want to spoil the story. But you will be shocked at this character - and not in a good way.

Then there is Tim, I loved Tim. It hurt me to see him go through these bad stages when he struggled with his drug and alcohol addiction and I was cheering him on as he slowly battled his addictions and became a better person. He goes through major character development and I was so proud of him! You could see that he saw that he was going down the wrong path and he knew that and wanted to improve his way of living. I was constantly cheering him on when he started breaking his bad habits. In the beginning I wasn't sure on Tim but towards the end I ended up loving his character.

Who I really want to talk about is the Garret family, who I completely fell in love with. Mr Garret, Mrs Garret, Joel, Alice, Jase, Andy (Andrea), Duff, Harry, George and Patsy. I love them all so much. When we were first introduced to them, I fell in love. It honestly felt like I, myself, were being welcomed into this large, loving family. I love reading about books with big families and the diverse personalities that each member of the family obtains.

Each member of the Garret family has their own personality and I was constantly amazed by how perfectly the author created this chaotic, yet loving family. From bad-boy Joel, to Alice who wears provocative clothing and has a different hair colour every few days, to Jase who loves fixing things and being involved in mechanics, to fourteen year old Andy, who we are shown is navigating the unknown territory of dating and first loves. Then there is Duff and Harry, the trouble-makers and George who is constantly worrying about things that are very unlikely to happen and little one-year old Patsy. I absolutely love George, four years old, who worries about everything (he's basically me), I just wanted to scoop him up and hug him.

You will fall in love with this family.

Samantha's mom and Clay, her boyfriend/assistant, were absolutely despicable. I hated how Grace, Samantha's mom, was constantly looking down on the Garret's, just because they were a big family. I couldn't believe the way the mom acted when a certain accident occurred, it made me feel sick, and to think Samantha has to live with that woman.

I think Samantha dealt with this certain situation amazingly well. You could see the inner battles and arguments she had with herself, knowing the consequences of each route she would take, might not end up so well, but she made a smart decision in the end and I was glad when her, Jase and the Garret family drew closer together again. I won't say too much, as it would spoil the story, but there is a plot twist at the end of this book, one that I was not expecting.

I do love the way Huntley Fitzpatrick writes. I couldn't stop reading My Life Next Door, I literally just sat the whole day and read and couldn't put it down. One thing that I was unsatisfied with, is the ending. There were a lot of issues that were left unresolved, and this book definitely needed an epilogue. I can't stand it when books don't have everything resolved at the end, so that was one flaw in MLND.

Despite that, My Life Next Door is a fantastic contemporary, that I will most likely re-read in the future. With three-dimensional characters with their own quirks, a sweet, gentle romance and a great story line with a shocking twist that causes the characters to really re-evaluate the choices they have made in their life. My Life Next Door isn't just a shallow contemporary, it has meaning and depth to it, as well real-life issues that the author handled sensitively. You will fall in love with Jase's family and feel like you're one of them. You won't be able to stop reading, I can guarantee you that! My Life Next Door is a fantastic read, although the ending could've been more resolved.

I give it: 4/5 CUPCAKES!