Title: My Life Next Door
Author: Huntley Fitzpatrick
Genre: YA, contemporary, romance
Published: January 2016 (UK publication; first published in 2012)
Publisher: Electric Monkey
Acquired: Bought on Amazon UK
Rating: ★★★★☆ [3.5]
Book Blurb:: My summer. My heart. My life next door.
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 balmy summer evening, Jase Garrett climbs the trellis to sit by her- and changes everything.
Okay, so this book was really nice to read, a perfect summer tale. I am always up for a bit of contemporary/romance, although it is rare for them to grip me as much as a fantasy novel would. That said, this book did pull me in, and it really made me want to fall in love!
The story centers on Samantha Reed, daughter of a well-to-do politician. She has the “perfect life”: nice house, nice clothes, a good education, etc. Yet she feels unsatisfied and spends a lot of her time looking at the neighbour’s family, the Garretts.
Samantha’s mother hates the Garretts as they are a large family, something she stereotypes as a poor, uncouth and messy thing- the complete opposite of her own family and status. As a result she effectively bans her daughters from interacting with the family next door.
Despite this Samantha secretly wishes she could be part of that family, until one day one of the Garrett boys- Jase- climbs up her trellis to her room (as you do). From there Samantha and Garrett’s relationship blossoms, letting them both pursue a summer love without Samantha’s mother realising.
Of course it is a summer love story, so there are those fluffy elements of “love at first sight”, but the novel does include some other developments to really get the plot going. There are mentions of politics, addiction, privileges, and friendships that really shape this book into more than just lust and romance. I particularly enjoyed the climatic event (the one with the car) towards the end that really shapes the dynamic between the Garretts and the Reeds. I couldn’t believe it! :O
The story itself didn’t enthuse me as much as other books have done, but it was a very easy read and I found that I kept losing track of time to find out what was going to happen next. Although the romance content was a bit cheesy at times (there was a lot of lusting and admiring each other’s bodies) I loved the warm feeling it gave me. *sigh* It’s books like these that really makes me want to have a boyfriend myself… #foreversingle.
One thing I didn’t really like was the ending, which is such a shame!! I felt it was really rushed, with not a lot of emotion attached. I don’t understand Sam’s mum’s reaction and plans for the future, and there doesn’t seem to be a lot of explanation. Even at the end where it shows Jase and Sam talking… I didn’t get it. WHAT DID IT MEAN. Is everything fine? Is it a happy ending? Are both families okay and well now? WHO KNOWS, let’s just admire the sunset I guess…
The ending really left me feeling dissatisfied, which is the main reason why I can’t rate this more more than 3.5 stars. It’s such a shame!
One thing I really liked in My Life Next Door is the depth of the character development. Fitzpatrick created so many characters but they are all so different. From goody-two-shoes Sam and glorious Jase to quick-witted Tim, grumpy Alice and oh so curious George ❤ I felt that for the most part this was done really well, and I good really visualise all the relations playing out.
In terms of particular characters, I really liked Jase- he was such a sweetheart!! Kind, thought and oh so handsome, he is the definition of a YA dreamboat. He has such a good personality and I just wanted to keep him for myself! ❤
Tim (Sam’s friend Nan’s twin brother) was also a really interesting character. He had a lot of issues going on and I really felt worried for him throughout the novel. Despite his “loose cannon moments” he does seem like such a genuinely good guy; it really shows how life can throw obstacles (in this case addictions) in the way while growing up. Honestly it would have been nice to have seen much more emotional development and detail about him in this book, although I Fitzpatrick’s next novel The Boy Most Likely To (UK publication June 2016) focuses on Alice Garrett and Tim, which does sound interesting.
I wasn’t sure how I felt about Samantha. I couldn’t completely relate to her due to her background and at times I found her quite annoying, particularly whenever her mum’s boyfriend Clay. However despite the niggles she was a lot more mature than most other romance protagonists and I did understand some of her decisions, especially involving her mum towards the end. I honestly might have run away a little and done what she did at first in the same situation, so I can’t dislike her too much! 😛
All in all I did enjoy the fluffiness of My Life Next Door. It was a really nice, summery read and I liked how everything played out alongside the romance.
It is also Huntley Fitpatrick’s debut novel and, despite some little niggles with the story, it is a quality start. This edition was published in the UK in 2016, so a bit later than its original publication date (2012), by which time Fitzpatrick has already released some more novels. I’ll have to have a look at them and see if any take my fancy!
Have any of you guys read this book? Let me know what you think in the comments! ♥♥