Author: Huntley Fitzpatrick
Publisher: Dial Books for Young Readers
Age Group: Young Adult
Category: Contemporary Romance
Release date: June 14th, 2012
Pages: 395 (Hardcover)
Rating: 5 out of 5
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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?
Samantha has known one thing since the Garrett family moved in next door--her mother was not pleased. She's been told to stay away from that disorderly bunch, but that never stopped Sam from silently watching them from just outside her bedroom window. When one of the older siblings, a boy named Jase, introduces himself after more than 10 years of being neighbors, Sam is thrown into a complete new world where she feels wanted, relaxed and like she finally fits in. She's found a home with this new family, but when it comes down to it, will she be able to choose between right and wrong?
I knew that My Life Next Door was the book for me the moment I heard about it. I waited for months to get my hands on it and it absolutely lived up to my expectations. I fell head over heels for the characters, especially Samantha and Jase and the romance that blossoms between them. It's safe to say that most aren't going to like Sam's mom just by reading how judgmental and how perfect she constantly has to try to be, but if you dig deep, you'll find compassion. There will be more characters that the readers will learn to despise, but the Garretts stayed true to themselves the entire journey.
What I loved about that large, chaotic, fun and completely close-knit family is that they welcome just about anyone. They turn the other way when someone voices one of their rude opinions and they don't let anyone stop them from being happy. Sam has known a very small family of just her mother and older sister, and just as her sister's leaving for college and her mother's spending more time in politics, she needs something like Jase's family. As it turns out, they need her too.
This story has to be one of the best contemporaries I've read all year. Not only is it filled with a steamy romance and a swoon-worthy boy, but it doesn't stray very far from its main and most important topic--family. Sam learns what it's like when her nearly-perfect life takes a turn and crashes, leaving her to pick up the pieces. She's faced with a very hard decision between honesty and betrayal and at least one of her families will have to suffer no matter what. My Life Next Door is what I call a perfect debut.