Rummanah Aasi
  Huntley Fitpatrick's debut novel, My Life Next Door, is a hotly anticipated summer read. It promises romance, summer fun, and lovable characters that you wish could stay longer with you after you finished the book. For the most part, the book delivers on all of these aspects. Though I did have a few issues with the book, it's definitely a book that I would be recommending for those in search for a good summer romance novel.

  Description (from Goodreads): The Garretts are everything the Reeds are not. Loud, numerous, messy, affectionate. And every day from her balcony perch, seventeen-year-old Samantha Reed wishes she was one of them . . . until one summer evening, Jase Garrett climbs her terrace and changes everything. As the two fall fiercely in love, Jase's family makes Samantha one of their own. Then in an instant, the bottom drops out of her world and she is suddenly faced with an impossible decision. Which perfect family will save her? Or is it time she saved herself?

Review: I absolutely loved the first half of My Life Next Door. In the first chapter we see the juxtaposition between warm and distant, normal and abnormal. The Garrets and Reeds live in proximity to one another; however, socially there are as far from each other as the North and South Pole.
   The Garrets radiate warmth, bringing smiles to our faces as we see a large family getting along with one another. We recognize our own family quirks and idiosyncrasies with theirs. Though personally, I do find ten kids a bit difficult to manage (I come from a family of four siblings plus me) and openly breast feeding in public a little weird, but that's what give them their charm. They are real, genuine inside and outside of the house. Like many of us, they also share common household issues. They are not ashamed of who they are despite the names their neighbors call them behind their backs.   
   On the complete opposite side of the spectrum are the Reeds, run by a single mom with political ambitions with her two daughters. The Reeds give off a stiff, sterile impression. Their house is museum-like, staged, and perfectly clean. It's as if their family is constantly "on", trying to fit the mold of what a perfect family should be. Just picture any political ad for a politician that showcases their family and you pretty much have the Reeds. Out of these two families, it's no wonder that Samantha chose the Garrets over her own family. I would too.
  The biggest strength of My Life Next Door is establishing the various characters in the book and developing their relationships with one another. Each character has their own unique voice and personality. We aren't just told in the narrative that these characters become close, but we are shown their strong bonds as they share small but mundane moments with one another such as fixing a car and babysitting.
  Due to the strong bonds already established, Samantha and Jase's relationship start out and progress naturally. Huzzah for no insta-love! The romance is incredibly sweet and guaranteed to make you smile and sigh. I loved Samantha and Jase as a couple. They are adorable without being obnoxious and clingy. They both complimented each other so well. Both are struggling to find their own identities, overcome the pressure of meeting other people's expectations of themselves, and develop self confidence amongst other things. I will say that Samantha at times bugged me, especially when she tried to keep Jase as her dirty little secret but knowing her relationship with her mom, I can understand why but I still don't agree with her actions. 
  My main issue with the book is the second half where the conflict is introduced. I got the impression that the conflict was pinned on at the end and the story lost a bit of its steam for me. The issue instead of being shocking, which I think is what the author was going for, came across to me as anti-climatic and resolved too quickly. I would have liked the problem to slowly build a bit more in the first half and then come to the book's climax, which I think would give the book a bit more of an emotional punch, which is why I gave the book it's 3.5 stars rating. If you're looking for a good summer read to unwind and put a smile on your face, be sure to check out My Life Next Door. Despite my issue with the second half, I definitely think it's worth picking up and reading.

Rating: 3.5 stars

Words of Caution: Strong language, implied drug usage, candid discussion of sex, and a small non-explicit sex scene. Recommended for Grades 9 and up.

If you like this book try: Along for the Ride by Sarah Dessen, Perfect You by Elizabeth Scott, Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins, Waiting for You by
7 Responses
  1. Jenny Says:

    "They are adorable without being obnoxious and clingy."

    YES! This is what I loved so much about Sam and Jase as well - they're relationship felt real instead of overdone for dramatic effect. And did you love George? I just wanted to take him home with me:)

    I agree the conflict could have been introduced earlier, but for some reason that just didn't bother me. Glad you enjoyed this one for the most part Rummanah!


  2. I've got this sitting on my shelf, Rummanah, and I can't wait to read it! The romance sounds perfect for the summer. It's also great that the characters' voices are all distinct and the relationships are well done. I've heard that the climax isn't very climactic but I guess you can't have everything :)


  3. Shahnila Says:

    lovely blog :D **New Follower**


  4. Annette Says:

    Great review. I've read enough about this one to know the romance is great and there's a big "surprise." It's on my list -- because I just have to know. Enjoyed reading your perspective.


  5. TayteH Says:

    The mom is evil!! :D Thanks for the review. :D


  6. I have to read this one. I've just read to many of my regular bloggers, including you that have said enough good things about it to make me want to read it. I even came across someone I didn't normally read that said, "Now I have to get a trellis for my house!" I thought that was funny!

    Heather


  7. Too bad the novel shifted gears. Since the characters were so well developed, it could have just been a character driven story without a contrived and easily resolved conflict. I'll probably skip this one, but it does sound perfect for summer.


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