Friday, November 29, 2013

Review: My Life Next Door by Huntley Fitzpatrick

394 pages
Published: June 14th, 2012 
Published by: Dial Books For Young Readers
"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.

Refreshing. That's the word I would use to describe this contemporary young adult novel.  I know I'm super late to this party but I had to review it and spread the love. On the outside, it looks like a slightly cheesy and totally girly romance novel. I wouldn't go as far as to say that I hate the cover (because I don't, I actually really like it) but I do think that it doesn't do the book justice and it might alienate some potential readers. The fact of the matter is that there is nothing short of awesome in its 394 pages. It is much more than just a romance story between two teenagers from totally opposite worlds. It is also a complex novel with innovative and multidimensional characters, a heart of gold, and the most mature young protagonists I've ever read in a contemporary Young Adult novel.

I found the story to be very realistic and beautifully written. It was also engaging and fun to read. Even though I loved the story, my favorite part of the entire book was the characters and their development. I love when writers pay attention to the secondary characters and don't use them as just fillers. The Garretts are an enormous family, yet I feel like I know all of their personalities and story-lines. I adore this about Fitzpatrick's writing. I love it so much that I'll read anything she writes for the rest of my life.

The maturity of the main characters both stunned and mesmerized me. I couldn't believe that someone wrote believable and relatable characters who are also mature and outside the mold of a "typical" teenager. Some writers excel at this already---Rainbow Rowell, A.S. King, Gayle Forman...just to name a few---but they are hard to come by. The relationship between Jase and Samantha is gorgeous. They figure things out together in such a grown-up way that I couldn't help but smile every single time they were together. Oh, and Jase is so freaking likable. He's sweet, smart, and a hard-worker. I am so tired of the "bad boys" taking over YA.  What's wrong with a nice male protagonist? Nothing! I want one like him. Haha.

This is such a charming, complex, and mature contemporary novel for fans of Sarah Dessen and Rainbow Rowell. Give it a go! And if you've read it, let me know what you thought of it!

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