Thursday, June 18, 2015

Review: My Life Next Door by Huntley Fitzpatrick


Title: My Life Next Door 
Author: Huntley Fitzpatrick 
Publisher: Dial Books for Young Readers 
Published: June 14th, 2012 
Purchase: Amazon  |  B&N

From Goodreads:

"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.

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Whyyyy? Why did no one make me read this sooner?? This book. Well, it’s just irresponsible. It makes you desert your family, ignore your friends, and let your housework go to hell. No, no, it’s not really irresponsible – it’s just completely addictive and one of the sweetest books I’ve had the pleasure to read this year.

Samantha Reed’s life is as planned and orderly as her mother has insisted it be. But she’d trade that life in an instant for a life next door. Next door, the Garrett family lives freely and with eight kids… a bit wildly. Though her mom forbade her from ever having anything to do with the “rowdy” bunch, the night Jase Garrett climbs up to sit with her on her balcony, Samantha breaks the rules and follows her heart. But will the rules be the only thing that gets broken?

Allow me to list the things I loved about this story:


I have to start with the boy who stole my heart. No, it’s not the male MC Jase, who I do deeply love. And it’s not Jase’s older, mysterious, motorcycle-riding brother… though I am intrigued. It’s not Tim, the troubled and misguided friend who grew on me like some sort of mold and who made me chuckle even while his actions horrified me. No. The boy who stole my heart and completely owns me is George. The scene-stealing, neurotic, adorable four-year-old, younger sibling to Jase, heart burglar, and ovary exploder. I love him. I want to run away with him and raise him as my very own.


“I’m left with George. He sucks on his Popsicle meditatively for a few minutes, then asks, ‘Did you know that in space it’s very, very cold? And there’s no oxygen? And if an astronaut fell out of a shuttle without his suit he’d die right away?’ 
I’m a fast learner. ‘But that would never happen. Because astronauts are really, really careful.’ 
George gives me a smile, the same dazzling sweet smile as his big brother, although, at this point, with green teeth. 
‘I might marry you,’ he allows. ‘Do you want a big family?’ 
I start to cough and feel a hand pat my back. 
‘George, it’s usually better to discuss this kind of thing with your pants on.’ Jase drops boxer shorts at George’s feet…” 

********** 

“The door opens and in comes George. ‘Mommy said to bring these.’ 
We move hastily apart to find him extending a plate of chocolate chip cookies, several of which have large bites out of them. 
George thrusts the plate at us guiltily. ‘I had to make sure they were still good.’ Then, ‘Hey, you guys have nothing on top!’ 
‘Um, George –‘ Jase runs his hands through the hair at the back of his head. 
‘Me neither.’ George jabs a finger at his own bare chest. ‘We match.’” 

Guys. This kid is the cutest four-year-old in all the books in all the land.

Okay, I think you get the picture. Back to my list.

Samantha is a sweet and wonderful MC. She endures such a dominating mother and her life is controlled so completely that she finds a peaceful escape by watching the family next door and craves the love and warmth they all exude. It made my heart ache for her, and her longing was so tangible I wanted to pick her up off the page and drop her into her neighbors' house to live forever and ever amen.

“The Garretts were my bedtime story, long before I ever thought I’d be part of the story myself.” 

Jase. Oh, sweetness. If I could hand-pick a boy for my own teenage daughter, it would be Jase. He truly is a wonderful young man. He loves his family, he cares about everyone, and he has such an amazingly strong work ethic. This boy is a keeper.

“But here’s the truth: In movies, it’s never half so lovely as it is here and now with Jase.” 

Ms. Fitzpatrick tells such a beautiful story, and every single character was fleshed out and well written. There were so many characters to love, but there were also two characters who I couldn’t love. One was Samantha’s mother. But the other character, the one who really exasperated me? Her best friend Nan. I always try to find a redeeming quality in a character I dislike – for instance, with her mother: I think she truly loves her daughter the best she knows how. The problem is not everyone knows how to parent. If you haven’t been shown unconditional love, it’s got to be hard to learn how to give it. But Nan? Nope. Just can’t do it. Without going into too much detail for fear of being spoilery, I’ll just leave it with I’m not a fan; though, sadly, I do find the situation realistic.

You’ll laugh, shed some tears, and most importantly fall in love with this sweet book. Huntley Fitzpatrick weaves a beautiful, heart-tugging story about family, first love, and the struggle to make a decision that could change everything for those held closest. And if you’ve already read this book, don’t miss Tim’s story in the companion novel The Boy Most Likely To that releases in August.

“It has nothing to do with how things look from far away and everything to do with how they are up close.” 

© at A Belle's Tales

  

8 comments:

  1. I remember reading this ages ago :)

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  2. Wifey! How have we not flailed over this book together?!?! I adore this book to itty bitty pieces. George is the best! Jase is just wonderful. I loved Samantha! But Nan! Oh Wifey we could have shared so many crankies over that girl. I couldn't stand her and I loved how the author handled that situation. Awesome review Wifey!

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  3. This has been sitting on my TBR shelf for months! Now I must read it.

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  4. Hehe..why we hold off on some books I will never know, but 9 times out of 10 I kick myself when I finally read it. Loved your fangirling!

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  5. I think I have this on my Kindle somewhere but as usual haven't gotten around to reading it, maybe I should!!

    Great review!

    Heather @ Random Redheaded Ramblings

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  6. Oh, Michele, what a SUPERCALIFRAGILISTICALLY WONDERFUL review!! I'm in love with this book already!! I've GOT to get it!! And this is coming from a bookworm who prefers fantasy, paranormal romance, and urban fantasy to realistic fiction!! But your review has SO gotten me interested in this novel! I especially like how you feel about little George. And that gif where you use the nickname "Squishy"....so ADORABLE. Yes, I, too, wish I had George to spoil to my heart's content. He'd be getting a LOT of squishy hugs, that's for sure!!

    I greatly enjoyed reading your analysis of the characters. Jase sounds like he'll become my next book boyfriend (make some room there, Edward!), and I think Samantha is very gutsy to go against her mother. Speaking of which, the mother does sound very unpleasant and very rigid. She needs to get wasted so she can let loose! Lol.

    But seriously, thank you SO much for getting me interested in this book!! : )

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  7. I'm SO happy to read you enjoyed this one so much! I remember reading this one and just, gosh, losing my heart to the story and the characters. This is a book that stays with you! George was such a wonderful character! The author did an amazing job capturing that young, innocent, adorable age! Now I want to re-read this one! I think I will, when I can ;}

    LOVE this review!

    *HUGS*<3

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  8. I remember seeing this one around and hearing such great things about it. I admit- I haven't read it. Now that I have read your review I am wondering what I am waiting for. I can't wait to get my hands on it! :)
    ~Jess

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