Review: My Life Next Door by Huntley Fitzpatrick

book coverPaperback: 394 pages 
Publisher: Speak
Release Date: June 13, 2013 (pbk ed)
ISBN: 9780142426043
Source of my copy: publisher
Series: standalone
Synopsis (from Goodreads)

A gorgeous debut about family, friendship, first romance, and how to be true to one person you love without betraying another.
“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.

My Life Next Door was one of those books I wished I read sooner. I don't know why I didn't pick up this novel sooner because I remember ooohh-ing and awww-ing over the cover (which is gorgeous and so perfect for the novel) when the hardcover released last year. I devoured it quickly and wanted a second helping of more awesomeness even though the entire thing was completely satisfying. I am going to be re-reading this one for sure!

My Life Next Door followed Samantha Reed who lived next door to the Garretts, a large (eight kids and counting), loud, boisterous, affectionate family. Samantha's family is the complete opposite of the the Garretts. Samantha and her older sister were raised by their mother Grace, a Stepford-wife type of lady who makes lemonade with special ice cubes with little lemon peel and mint frozen in them made out of lemonade, who vacuums her already spotless house as a form of relaxation and always turned her nose up and disapproved of the Garretts. But Samantha couldn't help but be fascinated by the family and she watched them from her balcony over the years.

Then, Jase Garrett climbed up her terrace one summer evening and changed Samantha's perfect but gray world to one of color.

With her mother busy with her reelection campaign and Clay Tucker (her new boyfriend/campaign manager) and her sister away for the summer, Samantha and Jase grew close and fall in love. Soon, Samantha was spending a lot of time with the Garretts, who welcomed her and quickly made her one of their own. But just when things couldn't be more perfect for Samantha and Jase, the unthinkable happens--Grace is involved in a hit-and-run accident [[highlight to read the spoiler --> Grace, driving while slightly intoxicated with Samantha sleeping in the backseat, hits Jase's father. To avoid any scandal that will ruin her reelection campaign, she drives off.]] and Samantha must make an impossible decision between her beloved Garretts and her mother's dreams and ambitions.

All of the **feels** in My Life Next Door--it was fantastic! I loved Samantha's character. I really connected with her and was there with her the entire novel. I fell in love with Jase along with her--he was smart, funny, handsome, hardworking, he loves his family and so very sweet and thoughtful. He was the perfect boy (and if I have one tinny tiny issue with this novel, it was that he was too perfect). The way Samantha and Jase's relationship developed with mutual respect and love was just too lovely and swoon-y for words. I absolutely loved it!

Besides Samantha and Jase, the secondary characters were wonderfully fleshed out as well. I enjoyed meeting the Garretts (the little kids were hilarious!), Samantha's best friend Nan and her twin brother Timmy had an interesting secondary plot line and Clay Tucker was perfectly odious and Grace was a complex character (I wanted to hate her but I can't completely bring myself to).

The novel was Huntley Fitzpatrick's debut novel and I detect no debut novel awkwardness--it was superbly written with depth that you do not always find in YA contemporary novels. For me, My Life Next Door is right up there with Anna and the French Kiss (Perkins) in terms of characters, romance and writing--if you liked Anna or reading contemporary YA in general, this novel is a must-read. And the release of the paperback edition was timely because My Life Next Door is the perfect summer beach read.

I urge high school-aged teens* and adults to read My Life Next Door this summer. Run to your nearest bookstore or library and pick up your copy. This book cannot be missed!
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*This book may not be appropriate for younger teens due to language, some drug and alcohol use and teen sexuality.

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