My Life Next Door
Title & Author: My Life Next Door by Huntley Fitzpatrick
Genre: Young Adult/Contemporary
Release Date: June 13, 2013
Publisher: Speak (reprint)
Series Details: Companion novel
Page Count: 394 Pages
Description: “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?”
“Everything was wonderful and then everything was awful.”
Okay, so maybe that’s a tad hyperbolic, but Samantha “Sailor Supergirl” Reed’s sentiment on her life pretty much sums up my feelings on her book as well. What started out as a sweet — albeit cheesy — summer romance quickly transformed into a morality debate with a side of political cover-up.I wish I was kidding, but unfortunately I’m not. Now don’t get me wrong, in a genre plagued by love triangles, it was nice — initially — to see a change of pace and an obstacle presented outside of a competing male love interest. However, the problem with the big “unthinkable” event in My Life Next Door was simply that: it was unthinkable. Everything about it was inconceivable. From the rushed timing to the probability of said incident occurring, to — most importantly — the reactions of the character’s involved.
Honestly, when you’re first hit with the twist it’s jarring. If you’re like me, you’ll have to go back and reread the pages to combat your feelings of: (Sidenote: I said “what??” a lot while reading this book — as you can tell from my gifs.)
The most upsetting part was that the twist had potential to be interesting. It could have presented the reader with a compelling quandary of: “What would I do if placed in a similar situation?” Unfortunately, a mere page or so later, the incident’s intrigue crashes and burns due to the character’s (you guessed it) unthinkable behavior. I didn’t have time to ask myself: “What would I do?” because the character’s took it to a whole other — wholly unrealistic — level. Maybe I’m wrong, but the whole last half of the novel felt rushed, far-fetched, and outside of the realm of possibilities.
Now I know what you’re thinking: “It’s YA contemporary! Lighten up!” And normally, I’d be with you. But even our leads fell flat for me. We know literally nothing about our heroine Samantha except that she comes from money, works 2 jobs, makes good grades, and has a perfect body. We don’t know her goals, aspirations, motivations, or anything that makes her “worth fighting for.”
And our male love interest is just as stereotypical. For real
Jase’s Prince Charming’s first words to Sam are: “Hey, need rescuing?” He’s sugar and spice and everything nice, but not what pages are turned for.
In fact, the only reason I’m rating this higher is due to two secondary characters that stole the show.
First up, the adorably precocious 4-year-old George that kept the book light and entertaining with his incessant worries about everything from astronauts to bacon. In a family of 10-going-on-11, he found a way to stand out and steal scenes. And — thanks to my recent viewing of IT — I kept picturing this cutie pie while reading and that face alone is worth an increased star rating!
“Why do all the hot girls want the jocks and the good boys? We losers are the ones that need you.”
This weighty thought comes from Tim, a troubled teen who’s layers and commentary kept me attentive throughout the story. His character had levels I was interested in exploring and personally makes me believe his spinoff novel (The Boy Most Likely To) will be more engrossing than it’s original counterpart.
While this book didn’t live up to the hype for me, I’m certain it would be a great read for younger audiences looking for a book on first loves, first betrayals, and navigating the obstacles associated with growing up. Plus, there’s a corn snake named Voldemort that has a shoe fetish, so if that does anything for you then don’t hesitate to pick this up!