Sunday, July 21, 2013

Book Review: My Life Next Door by Huntley Fitzpatrick

Pages: 400
Genre: Teenage Fiction
Release Date: 14/06/12
Publisher: DIAL
I bought it on kindle.

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? 

A dreamy summer read, full of characters who stay with you long after the story is over.

I have heard some great things about 'My Life Next Door' and how it was one of the top moving, funny and romantic contemporary teen novels out at the moment. So I guess you could say I had high expectations? This book did cover some interesting themes and have some good messages. Regardless of whether or not I agreed it was a top novel, I think it was definitely worth a read anyway.

Samantha is an interesting main character. She was a hard working girl who didn't judge people without getting to know them first. The thing is though, that Sam's mother is very good at judging people and is a Senator. People who don't know Sam well could easily think that she got everything given to her on a silver spoon. Perhaps that is a little true, but Sam tries her hardest to show her worth and to live life according to her own morals rather than by her mother's rules.

This book isn't your typical boy-meets-girl-from-next-door kind of book. Samantha and Jase haven't known each other all of their lives. The only reason they met was because Jase saw Samantha watching him from her window and he decided to climb up to her house and introduce himself. It's very Romeo & Juliet only no-one tries to escape and Jase is from a very large family.

The large family Jase comes from (The "Garrets") is a huge contrast to Samantha's single mother and one sister family unit. The author does a nice job of comparing the two subtly and showing us how rude stereotyping and judging can be. It also shows us that the Garret's children probably appreciate things more because they have to work harder for them; or wait longer for them. This novel really show us that you can take things for granted and you can miss out on meeting some nice people because of the stereotypes associated with them.

There were also contrasts between the parenting methods in the novel. There were the Masons (Sam's friends parents) who liked to sweep issues under the carpet and pretend that everything was just fine, The Garrets who liked to teach their kids morals and let them make their own mistakes, And, Samantha's mother who was very strict and judgmental, but never at home to enforce the rules. The fact that the Garret's were probably the best parents of the bunch helps to position you to see that while Samantha's mother dislikes bigger families, she is no better than them.

While I really liked the different messages in 'My Life Next Door' I thought that the accident in the book made it too many. I felt like the book was too heavy and while the situation was probable it seemed too unlikely. I don't want to spoil too much, but I felt like that was a place that it didn't make sense for the novel to go. It did really get the point across, but not in the most realistic way. If you read it you will know what I mean.

I also felt like the summery vibe was missing from the book. There was one scene at night where Jase and Samantha go swimming in the pool which was very summery, but I don't feel like there was much description of the weather or the beach in any of the other chapters. Not enough to feel summery anyway.

Overall, I think this book is worth 4 out of 5 stars. I really wanted to love this book. And, while I loved it up until the point of the accident I felt like it was too flat and not a very probable story-line. I think I would definitely read more by this author in the future as it was not an awful novel and I could recommend it to those who like books with a more dramatic story-line.

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1 comment:

Jessica Cangiano said...

Oooh, isn't that so frustrating. There you are, merrily enjoying a book and thinking you're going to love it until the very last sentence, and then, poof, a plot twist sours you on it and it never quite recovers. I think it's a bit like the literary equivalent of finding a big piece of eggshell in a delicious omelette.

Thank you deeply for your touching comment on my (unplanned) blog post today, sweet gal, it means a great deal to me.

♥ Jessica