My Life Next Door – by Huntley Fitzpatrick
This YA contemporary romance came highly recommended by blogs I’ve been reading, and the word that kept coming up is ‘charming’. I love the yellow hardcover design of this one, and read it on holidays a couple of weeks ago. This is my take on My Life Next Door:
Samantha Reed is cautious, conscientious and always considerate of others – particularly of her high-strung local politician mother. Sam’s mum expects nothing less, and can’t imagine anyone not wanting to live in her buttoned-up, obsessively vacuumed, structured and scheduled world. Which helps to explain why Sam’s mother loathes the family next door.
The Garrett family are the Reed’s polar opposites. Their eight children enjoy a kind of chaotic freedom that Samantha can only imagine as she watches from her bedroom. Until the day Jase Garrett climbs up to her window and invites her to be a part of his world. (Oh dear, accidental Little Mermaid reference there!) The Garretts are so welcoming that in no time, Sam feels like one of them – but when a terrible accident is caused, she will have to choose where her loyalties truly lie.
The best part of this book was the characterisation. Sam is a young woman just learning to want things for herself, not simply to appease her mother, and learning to form her own opinions about right and wrong. It was gratifying to see Sam begin to realise that adults are human too, and not every decision they make is correct without question. Jase Garrett is a wonderful match for her; a dream book boyfriend. In My Life Next Door, however, I enjoyed the supporting cast as much as our main characters.
Samantha’s best friend Nan was funny, complicated, and sometimes horrible – but always understandably so. Nan’s brother Tim was probably my favourite character. He has problems, and he refuses to help himself a lot of the time. This is maddening because of how much potential he has, and how sweet he can be when he forgets that he’s got this rebel persona to maintain. And George (oh, George!), one of Jase’s brothers, was an absolute delight; he’s young but wide-eyed with wonder and a fair bit of wariness about the world. One of Samantha’s strengths was being able to reassure George that everything will be okay (one of the lies we’re allowed to tell kids).
Generally, the novel lived up to its reputation as a beautiful story about first love. It skims over some serious issues with less emphasis than I’d have liked, and takes us rather into the heart of a budding relationship between two people who deserve to be happy. With the feel of a summer read but the heart of a re-read – charming is definitely the word!
I’m looking forward to seeing more from Huntley Fitzpatrick. Have you read about My Life Next Door?
(*Bonus points for any readers who can guess the song reference in this post – it’s been in my head since I read the book! /Music Nerd)