“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, 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.
OPINION: 4 STARS
Charming and cute, My Life Next Door is a feel good kind of romance with a few rougher moments thrown in. Pulling in an opposites sides of the tracks type of elements while still twisting it to something specific to this book, and not relying solely on it, this one pitches a softly growing relationship that soon turns passionate and determined. With great chemistry, and some strong characterization, My Life Next Door will leave readers a bit breathless.
Sam has a good head on her shoulders, even if her mother somewhat brainwashes her, particularly in regards to the family next door. Still, Sam sees beyond just what her mom does, and imagines herself over there plenty of times. When that starts to become a reality, Sam is tested against her mother in some surprising and well developed ways. Add in the big event the summary hints at, and Sam most definitely has some pretty big decisions to make. Even when she's seemingly at her worst, her mindset is solid and easy to understand, making her a very sympathetic character and one readers will certainly root for.
Jase makes for a great love interest, even if he was a little bit too perfect and put together for me. Though he does have his moments of weakness or even selfishness, for the most part, I felt like he had to be pushed to almost an extreme for these to show through. Still, there is something solidly endearing about him, a wit and charm and softness that will have readers melting. He is far from the usual broken or even cocky kind of bad boy seen in many YAs, and he definitely proves that being a rebel isn't the only way to get readers drooling. The chemistry between Sam and Jase is powerful, searing at times and completely captivating. Add in the way his own character develops, and the decisions he has to make, and there is more than just romance between these two.
This book is somewhat of a slow burn, building things between Sam and Jase at a steady but not immediately fiery pace, while also pulling in some other story arcs. While to some extent, this one was a little too romance focused for my tastes, having only secondary elements of something deeper, it's still an enjoyable and cute read. Though I did understand for the most part the way things went, there were some aspects that seemed a little too convenient or forced for me. Regardless, I enjoyed the heat between Sam and Jase, and especially love the way Fitzpatrick has blended the two different lifestyles right next door to each other. The secondary characters were all well developed and fun, and Jase's entire family has a starring role and memorable element to them. The writing is beautiful, very fluid and having some great descriptions, and it easily pulls readers in from the start. Both contemporary and romance lovers should definitely add this book to their radar.
Source: ARC received from author in exchange for an honest review
Reading level: Ages 12 and up
Hardcover: 304 pages
Publication Date: June 14, 2012