Thursday, April 9, 2015
Review: My Life Next Door by Huntley Fitzpatrick
Author: Huntley Fitzpatrick
Published Date: 13 June 2013
Buy: Amazon | The Book Depository | Dymocks Australia
"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, 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. (summary from Goodreads)
Fitzpatrick's debut is everything you want from a contemporary YA. It's real and full of emotion.
Books like My Life Next Door remind me why I love contemporary YA so much. And I keep saying YA rather than romance, because while this book is a contemporary romance, that's really only one element of it. There's just so much happiness and tragedy, and life, packed into such a book as this. The romance element is definitely a major point of interest though, and Fitzpatrick has created one that is wonderfully developed. Samantha and Jase's relationship is delightful in it's progress from neighbours unknowingly watching each other to friendship to love. They truly compliment each other. Family and truth are other key elements of My Life Next Door and they provide a storyline I wasn't quite expecting. I don't want to go into it for fear of revealing too much, but Fitzpatrick does a great job handling the struggle of doing the right thing, even if it means hurting those close to you. There's real substance to this book that hits you hard and keeps you thinking.
One of the things I love most about contemporary YA is the characters. I say it often - characters make a story for me. My Life Next Door has such great characters, all of them standout and bringing something specific to the story. The Garrett family is a fun and gorgeous character of its own! Mostly because there's so many of them. I love their quirks and individuality, and their easy affection. They're a stark contrast to Samantha's family, especially her mother, Grace. So many times I wanted to shake that woman! The expectations and the judgmental attitude are constantly frustrating. Clay too was a disgustingly slimy antagonist. I took the greatest joy in getting to know Tim. His growth throughout the novel, and that of his friendship with Samantha and Jase, is perfect. My only upset is his sister, Nan. Talk about leaving me grumpy! I wouldn't mind a look at her future and the rude awakening coming her way, let me tell you. I could rant, but I'm trying again to not reveal too much. Lastly, of course I love Samantha and Jase. Jase is such a good guy, caring and responsible. I want to squee about him, I admit. You can't help but feel for Samantha, so lost in her family and her life, and hoping that she stands up, speaks out, breaks free - something! Fitzpatrick portrays well the effort it takes to be yourself despite your family.
If you enjoy contemporary YA, My Life Next Door is not to be missed. With wonderful characters and a meaningful story, Fitzpatrick has crafted a gem.