Sunday, 6 July 2014

Review: My Life Next Door by Huntley Fitzpatrick

Title: My Life Next Door
Series: My Life Next Door #1
Author: Huntley Fitzpatrick
Publisher: Dial Books
Publication Date: June 14, 2012
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance


"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.

I'd heard the hype surrounding this book for quite a long time, and the way it was marketed made me believe that it was a typical boy-next-door type romance, and it is. But it is so much more than that. Sure, there were lots of swoony, lighthearted and romantic aspects to this book, but this book also has a large focus on more realistic and important themes relevant to teenagers such as family, friendship, guilt, self-image, shame, identity, social class, and the future.

I absolutely adored this book. It had everything I look for in a YA contemporary novel.

The prose in this book was lovely, so honest and genuine as the voice of Samantha. Sam was such a genuine and well-rounded character and was a true teenage girl and I found that I could relate to her in many ways. It would have been very easy for Fitzpatrick to create Sam to be an unlikeable protagonist, but instead what we get to see is Sam, despite all of her privileges and seemingly perfect life, she is very real and has very real issues. Instead of prioritising her inherited wealth, she is very driven. She works two jobs as well as helps out with her mother's campaign. It was refreshing to see. It's often tricky for authors to write a good protagonist when they really seem to have everything going for them.

Jase was such a sweet, easy going and lovable guy. Samantha and Jase's relationship was handled so well. Their relationship was so well-paced, and I loved how realistic the progression was. One of the most realistic parts of their relationship was the way that sex was addressed. Many YA books tend to just breeze through the topic, but in this book it was handled so realistically. The way that Sam and Jase explored their relationship was very true to teenage behaviour. It wasn't perfect like movies and other books make it out to be, it was messy and awkward, and real. Huntley Fitzpatrick really hit the nail on the head. It was so heartwarming to see Sam and Jase grow as individuals but also to watch them evolve as a couple.

The family aspect of this novel was so darn beautiful. The Garretts were so lovable, they are basically just an enormous and chaotic family but each member of it is so incredibly unique. Each character was uniquely individual with their own quirks and traits. The Garretts were so adorable, the were such a diverse group of characters that I grew to love. They were hilarious, generous and so very sweet.

Then there is Sam's family. Sam's mother was a very controlling. Don't even get me started. At times I want to punch her in the face. She really pissed me off. I found her behaviour to be very indecent, and I didn't think she was a very good role model at all. I think that Sam's disagreement and rebellion against her mother was very normal for a teenager, but it was also very refreshing to see a child (Sam) questioning her parent's morality and judgement. Children are taught to listen to what their parents say and often it isn't always right, so it is very nice to see kids, or in this case, characters, exploring their judgement and questioning actions and morals of others.

All is smooth sailing and beautiful progression until a very big thing happens. THE THING. It sure is a game changer. It packs a punch. This event pretty much changes the course and tone of the entire book. It takes you by complete surprise and the story becomes much heavier, but also so much more touching and poignant. I think this twist was perfect, and really turned the story around. I had a lot of emotions towards the end of this book, and there were a few characters I wanted to punch in the gut, but also some I just wanted to hug. The pacing was intensified like crazy. So much drama, so much emotion. It was truly touching.

I loved this book with all my heart. My Life Next Door was such an honest and genuine portrayal of first love that covered so many important issues. Fitzpatrick captures a voice and story that is so true to teenage behaviour. It is rare to read a YA book that is so incredibly genuine and explores so many relevant modern issues. It is everything readers could look for in a light read, but has the conflict that will truly make readers think and feel. Huntley Fitzpatrick's debut is a lovable and captivating read that will certainly appeal to fans of Sarah Dessen or Gayle Forman.


  1. Yay! I'm so glad you loved this one. This was one of my favourite books on 2013 and I completely agree with everything you said. Lovely review Maddie!

    1. I loved this book to death, I'm glad so many people agree. Thank you!

      Maddie @ The Girly Geek

  2. I absolutely loved this one too, and George! He was clearly the star :)
    THE THING completely took me by surprise too, as I thought the storyline was leading elsewhere. Awesome review Mads :)

    1. I'm thrilled that you loved it just as much as I did! Thank you for all your kind words, Kelly! I absolutely love your blog and it means so much that you've taken time out of your day to be so kind as to comment on my blog! :)))

      Maddie @ The Girly Geek


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