Title: My Life Next Door
Author: Huntley Fitzpatrick
Publisher: Dial Books for Young Readers
Release Date: June 14th 2012
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.
– Blurb courtesy of goodreads.com
My Thoughts On…
Samantha Reed has sat by her window and watched the Garrett’s for years. She’s seen snapshots of their lives in small glimpses throughout the years since they moved next door to her family. She sees what they have; a large family, two parents who are happily married, love, chaos, liveliness, and it’s so different from what she had; just her mum and her sister, all three of them on different paths slowly taking them away from one another. She is fascinated by the Garrett’s but she is content to watch their world from her room, never daring to cross the fence that separates her house from theirs.
Until Jase Garrett makes the first move. From the second he introduces himself he immerses Sam in his families’ lives. She starts babysitting his younger siblings and spends more and more time with Jase until their feelings grow from friendship to something more. However even as Sam is fully a part of Jase’s life; constantly spending time around his home, with his parents and his siblings, Jase is no one to Sam’s friends and family. He doesn’t meet her best friend until Sam is forced to call him for help, he doesn’t meet her sister or her mother as Sam knows what their opinions of the Garrett’s are. Instead of pushing her though, Jase is content to wait until Sam is ready.
But as the two of them navigate the highs and lows of their relationship and their first love something terrible happens. Something that has a disastrous impact on Jase’s family and could have terrible consequences for Sam’s. Sam finds herself forced to choose between right and wrong and between the two people she loves.
Sam, on the surface, seems like a perfect character with a perfect life; her mother is running for office again which puts the Reed’s in a position of respect and power, Sam attends private school, gets good grades, and her future is an open path to the college of her choice. The only thing she doesn’t have is a warm family environment, and the more we see of Sam the more we see her life isn’t perfect. Like anyone she struggles with the choices she has to make throughout this book, but when it comes down to it she does what she feels is the right thing and can only hope it will turn out all right.
Jase is a smart, warm, open, funny, loving person and it is easy to see why Sam was attracted to him and the rest of the Garrett’s. He has a very set definition in his head of right and wrong and, although he is genuinely a kind and emphatic person with support and a kind word for everyone, there are times when he feels resentment at his circumstances or other people’s take on his and his families lives. It doesn’t make him cruel or unreasonable, just human. He sees the opportunities other people have had and wasted and knows he would have given anything for even a fraction of that chance.
The relationship between Jase and Sam was truly heart-warming to read. While Sam is reserved in their first few meetings Jase is not; he is the one who introduces himself to Sam sitting on her roof and he is the one who first brings her into his house to meet his family. The two of them come to rely on one another and Jase becomes someone Sam can completely trust. She tells him about everything, he is the only person she feels she can be completely honest with.
While Jase introduced Sam to his whole family before they started dating he doesn’t meet her mum or even any of her friends. However instead of pressuring her he gives her the time and space she needs to be completely ready to tell her mum about their relationship.
Jase has a massive family and seeing their interactions was probably one of my favourite parts of the book. From Alice, who seems aloof at first but who looks out for her little brother, to Andy, who worries over impressing her first date and relies on Sam for advice, to George, who has the mind of an encyclopaedia and who brought a smile to my face every time he made an appearance in the book. Then there are Sam’s friends, Nan and Tim, she has known both of them since they were children but they are both going through issues Sam is helpless to assist them with. I really liked Tim; the situation he faces and eventually comes out on top of was interesting to read. His issues wasn’t just swept under the rug and forgotten about in favour of Sam’s and Jase’s romance, and his struggle to do what was right and not to fall back on bad habits was incredibly well-written.
Sam, Jase, Tim, Nan, Grace Reed; all of them had to face some hard choices in this book, and it was the outcome of those choices that really showed who their characters actually were.
Despite the fact that they live next door to one another Sam and Jase could not have had more different upbringings. Sam’s mother keeps their house immaculate; it’s clean, stark and almost lifeless. With only Sam and her mother in a house too big for them it’s easy for the place to feel cold and empty. Jase’s family doesn’t have the status and money that Sam’s do but his house is full of life and love and it seems brighter than Sam’s. It’s easy to see why she wanted to spend all her time there.
I didn’t go into this book with high expectations, despite it’s brilliant reviews this isn’t the kind of book I normally read, however I love My Life Next Door. It is so much more than just the romance between Jase and Sam. Each of the characters made this book amazing.
What did you think of My Life Next Door? Was it a favourite of yours or could you just not get into the story? Let me know.