Thursday, August 30, 2012

My Life Next Door

My Life Next Door by Huntley Fitzpatrick
4/5 stars
Dial Books, 2012
394 pages
YA Contemporary

Source: Checked out of library

This book has received a lot of praise and, as a lover of contemporary, it always makes me happy to see non-contemporary fans fall for one. Of course, I had to check this book out for myself!

 For years, Samantha Reed has watched the Garrett family, growing to contain eight children to the dismay of her single mother who laments their mess and noise. Still to Sam, it looks spectacular, the kind of life she'd prefer to her sterile spoiled life. One night to her surprise, while she's spying on the Garretts, she is greeted by the third-eldest child, Jase who brings her over and introduces her to a whole new kind of life as they begin a romance.

Parts of this plot strongly reminded me of Sarah Dessen's excellent The Truth About Forever. We have privileged daughter who tries to live up to her mother's expectations including the boring jobs that send out the right image while daughter ends up taking a fun job that opens her up in new ways. However suffice it to say that Jase is no Wes (sa-woon) as Jase doesn't seem to have any flaws (such as a bit of a temper which would have been totally justified at one point) and his "perfectness" is exactly what I dislike most about him. Still he is a good guy rather than the bad boy so I give him points for that.

However as the book progressed, some concerns niggled at me.  First the Reeds are quite wealthy while the Garretts are not. Yet they live right next door to each other. How did the Garretts afford that house? Did they inherit it somehow? Have they really been able to keep up with the property tax? Why didn't Mrs. Reed move? This isn't normally something I'd pick at but the fact that they live next door to each other is the main plot contrivance so I feel like it's fair game.

Next why does Sam have a sister? Personally I loved Tracy and would have liked more of her but she spent most of the book away. On the one hand, she serves as an example of what standing up to their domineering mother looks like; but on the other hand, if she didn't exist, it would have made even more sense for then only child Sam to long for what the boisterous Garrett family has.

Third, I was very displeased with the resolution of Sam and Nan's ruptured friendship. Namely because there wasn't any. There were cruel words, hurt feelings, and then that was it. Their long-standing friendship was dissolved. I guess it's okay because now Sam has Jase and a boy can totally replace your best friend of 12 years-note the sarcasm. I started out the book really happy that Sam at least had one friend and was very disappointed with how this was handled.

Lastly was a sudden plot twist near the end involving Sam's mother. It came out of left field for me and just seemed to be used to add some drama to shake up the book. I understand a book needing that jolt but this particular choice didn't sit well with me. And related to that, I found the ending of the book way too ambiguous. Don't worry, romance fans-that part is stable but for everything else, I wanted to know more.

Warning: Extreme language (one character who didn't make it into this review swears a lot and it made me wince every time), drugs, and sexual content probably make this a better read for the older end of YA.

Overall: A strong start but too many loose threads left me dissatisfied by the end.

Cover: Very cute-love the bright summery yellow as this book takes place over the course of one summer.


  1. Awwww sorry this one didn't work so well for you! I adored this book, but you do make some good points about the things that went unresolved. Sometimes I get so caught up in a story I don't notice any of the flaws and then other times, all I can see are flaws. This read was luckily the former for me, but definitely isn't going to be that way for everyone. Thanks so much for your thoughts!

  2. I loved the swear-y character. He was my absolute favorite part of the book!
    And I do agree that I wanted more resolution at the end. Hoping character you didn't mention in your review gets his own book and we get to find out more about what happened with Sam and her mom, Sam and Nan, etc.

  3. YES! That plot twist totally bothered me as well, but for the most part I loved My Life Next Door.

  4. Yes, the friendship story was kind of :) But, I still liked it a lot and thought it was very entertaining. I also liked the characters. Didn't you just loved the little ones of the Garretts family? So cute! :) Glad you liked it.

  5. Great review. I would love to read this one. My library has it but there are so many holds it looks like it won't be for a while. :(

    Jenea @ Books Live Forever

  6. Great review. sad it was just ok for you

  7. I've heard such fabulous things about this one, so I'm sorry that you didn't totally love it! But I am glad that you at least liked it. =) I was thinking about buying this one (since my library NEVER gets any new YA books) but I think I'll try and borrow it from somebody. It seems like there just a few really annoying things, but the overall story is good.

    Fabulous review! <3

  8. The plot twist definitely didn't feel right to me either - and I DEFINITELY agree with your comments about this being a less successful version of The Truth About Forever.

    Although I did enjoy reading this overall, it definitely isn't one I'll pick up again.

  9. I've had this on my list for a bit, I hope I can get to it soon. I'm sorry you had some problems with it, but everyone has those with some books. =) Great review. I'll keep a lookout for those problems. :P

  10. The plot twist was crazy and I wish it wouldn't have happened that way, but even with it, I just loved this book so much. I read it during my Contemporary Month in which I immersed myself in the genre in hopes to become a more well-rounded reader...

    This book and books that I enjoyed just as much are part of the reason that I love contemporary/realistic on a growing scale since the beginning of the summer. I just devoured this book and almost wanted to be part of the Garrett family.

    This is one that I loved so much - I read it so fast - I'll definitely be re-reading it and hopefully eventually purchasing it. Great honest & thought-provoking review. Thank you!


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