(Website, Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads)Published by Penguin on June 14th 2012
Genres: Family, General, Love & Romance, Social Issues, Young Adult
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"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.
“The Garretts were forbidden from the start.”
Samantha Reed has always lived the perfect-to-a-t life, unlike the Garretts, who moved next door when she and her sister were little. At the time there were only five children, but as the years progressed, they grew into eight: Joel, Alice, Jase, Andy, Duff, Harry, George, and Patsy. After all the time they’ve lived next door, after constantly attempting to be neighborly to her brusque mother, she never really knew any about the people living right beside her. In secret, she would sneak out onto the terrace outside her window and watch and listen to the Garretts, never understanding why her mother had such a problem with them other than all of their children and their constant mess. Then, one summer night, one of those enigmatic Garrets climbs up to sit with her as she stares at the stars. Thus is the beginning of an unforgettable summer.
“As always, the contrast between the Garretts’ yard and ours is extreme—Dorothy walking out of black and white and into Technicolor.”
The opposing families provided an interesting feel to the novel, being as they had absolutely nothing in common. The Reeds lived off of Gracie Reed’s, the mother, hearty trust fund until she decided to go into politics and became senator for their state, whereas the Garretts scraped by. The atmosphere of the Garretts’ house was intoxicating, and I couldn’t wait for Samantha to have constant encounters with them. The rowdy family next door taught the uptight, obsessive family that when you love each other money is inconsequential, because family is what’s most important—no matter how big or small. Not only was it a lesson Samantha needed, but one that others in the story benefitted from as well. Even though I did fall in love with Jase, the Garrett that climbed up to Samantha’s window that summer night, I found it impossible not to adore them all.
The relationship between Samantha and Jase had me reading quickly and nonstop for hours, because I had to know what happened next. Their love is new and refreshing and appealed to the idea of young, romantic love. No doubt, this is a summer romance that every girl craves with the mysterious boy next door.
“I’m pleased by all the parts of him I know, and each new part I discover is like a present.”
Not only did Samantha learn more about those new to her life, but she discovered hidden truths about those who played key roles in her life as the senator’s daughter, not Jase Garretts’s girlfriend. Although I did not like Tim, her best friend’s twin, in the beginning of the book, the change in his character made him hilarious and necessary as his metamorphosis took place. By the end, I loved his character almost as much as Jase—but not quite. The change in Tim was almost as big as the events of that summer, and it spiced up the unfolding of the choice Samantha would have to make when the circumstances arose. Nan, presented as her longtime best friend, played her role as intended, and I can’t say I was disappointed how their friendship stood when all the drama of those few months came to a close. Tim and Nan may have been twins, but they were nothing alike, and I had an obvious favorite.
“’I don’t think it washes off,’ I say, before I can think.
‘Guilt. Didn’t work for Lady Macbeth, did it?’”
It wouldn’t have been such an unforgettable, live-altering summer without the major turn of events about three-fourths of the way through. The whole time I read I kept thinking, “How devastating will something have be to break apart a love like theirs?” Huntley Fitzpatrick did a fantastic job at throwing a thought-provoking situation that makes Samantha question everything she’s every known and what she had come to accept as her new reality. The difficult situation made her a strong character with impenetrable resolve, which added to the story’s depth.
“When our lips meet, I don’t feel the familiar warmth and ease. I feel like Judas.”
I saw a recommendation for My Life Next Door on an Instagram account that I follow. After reading the blurb, I knew that I had to read this book—I’m so glad I did! Not only did I fly through the pages, but I couldn’t wait to tell someone about it. It was not simply about two teenagers falling in love, it had a welcomed complexity that increased my enjoyment of the novel.
But if you don’t love anything else about this book: GEORGE! Love, love, loved George.