Sadie Hawkins Sunday Review #40: My Life Next Door

Sadie Hawkins Sunday Review #40: My Life Next DoorMy Life Next Door by Huntley Fitzpatrick
Series: My Life Next Door #1
Published by Dial BFYR on June 14, 2012
Genres: Contemporary, Romance
Pages: 394
Format: Paperback
Source: Gifted
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"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.

Recommended by: Gillian (Writer of Wrongs) & Ash (yAdult Review)

Obviously, My Life Next Door comes highly recommended by book bloggers. I’m pretty sure at least five have mentioned that I needed to get to this novel. And, having read it, I’m happy to say you were all right and that this is definitely a Christina book. I loved the Garretts, the incredibly sweet portrayal of first love, and the development of the secondary characters.

My Life Next Door starts out as a very light, fluffy tale. Samantha, youngest daughter of a wealthy woman, spends the summer getting to know cute neighbor boy, Jase. Though her mom, Grace, raised Samantha and Tracy alone, that only really became a problem when Grace entered politics. Now the Connecticut Senator, she’s running for reelection, neglecting her daughters, and becoming a person that Samantha hardly recognizes.

Grace attempted to instill a lot of her own prejudices in Samantha, including her hatred of the rambunctious, child-filled, messy family next door. Samantha, however, finds the Garretts fascinating, and has been watching them almost all of her life. Even so, she had no idea just how wonderful they were until Jase gets up the courage to talk to her and invite her into their lives.

The Garretts are truly amazing, probably the most healthy family in YA fiction I’ve ever encountered. You wouldn’t expect me to love a family with eight children, but they’re marvelous and I kind of want to be friends with them. From the parents, who, eight children in, are still totally hot for one another, down to the youngest Garrett, baby Patsy, whose first words are “boob” and “poop”, the Garretts are a charming bunch. The whole family bursts with vibrancy and life, especially compared with the cleansed, cold, emptiness of Samantha’s house. In this instance, it really is easy to believe that, though the Garretts want for money, they’re wealthy in what truly matters.

And Jase, oh Jase. He’s a WONDERFUL fictional boyfriend. Jase is physically attractive, yes, but that’s not the reason he’s so swoony, and Fitzpatrick really doesn’t harp on his looks either. What makes Jase such a great guy is how thoughtful and kind he is. He adores Samantha and she him. They truly bond, laughing together and growing together. No scene about going to buy condoms has ever been so cute or so incredibly healthy in its attitude towards sex, I swear. Both the emotional and physical sides of their relationship are done so perfectly.

Another aspect I ended up loving was Tim’s character arc. At first, I hated him, as one is meant to. Tim’s a druggie, lost in a haze and squandering all the opportunity provided by his parents’ wealth. However, he actually cleans up, even though it’s hard, and he becomes a really good, reliable friend to Samantha and Jase when they’re in need of that sort of support. And, in being so helpful to them, Tim has the motivation to stay off of drugs and alcohol. His arc’s probably a bit over-simplified, but I loved the tale of redemption.

I’m less sure how I feel about the twist for the very serious that the novel took at the end. While I think Fitzpatrick handled the subject matter well, it’s a serious mood change, and I wasn’t really prepared for the book to head in that direction, which made it a bit disappointing. Also, I came out of it less of a fan of Samantha, View Spoiler », and made me feel like Jase deserved better. Then again, Samantha’s so young, and that would be a really hard choice for her to make.

There was one thing I definitively did not like about My Life Next Door. Both Nan and Samantha use “mommy” to refer to their mothers, which really seems out of place in a seventeen-year-old. Yes, they’re spoiled trust fund girls, but they do work to earn their own money and have ambition. Sure, when I was a teen, I would make use of “mommy” and “daddy” to get my way sometimes, but I certainly wouldn’t be calling them that in casual conversation with friends or for no reason whatsoever.

Even though I’m a bit uncertain about a couple of directions My Life Next Door took, I loved this honest portrayal of first love and its heartfelt look at family and politics. I’m definitely rating up for the adorable feels I got from the romance in this one.

Favorite Quote:

“Do you think he knew?” I ask.
“You’re blushing again,” Jase mutters absently. “Did who know what?”
“The sales guy. Why we were buying these?”
A smile pulls the corners of his mouth. “Of course not. I’m sure it never occurred to him that we were actually buying birth control for ourselves. I bet he thought it was . . . a . . . housewarming gift.”
Okay, I’m ridiculous.
“Or party favors,” I laugh.
“Or”—he scrutinizes the receipt—”supplies for a really expensive water balloon fight.”

Up Next:

The Creature Department - Robert Paul Weston

The next Sadie Hawkins Sunday book will be The Creature Department by Robert Paul Weston, as recommended by Blythe (Finding Bliss in Books), who wanted to know what I thought of my ARC from BEA.

Want to tell me what to read? Fill out the following form with a suggestion! For more details, check this post.

20 responses to “Sadie Hawkins Sunday Review #40: My Life Next Door”

  1. I love your review! I basically say all the same in mine ahah.

    Tim’s story was so well done, and I really ended up caring about him. I hated Nan at the end, she was so selfish and in no way a “best friend”. And yes, the mommy thing drove me insane!

    Great review 🙂 Are you going to read her next book, What I Thought Was True?
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    • Christina Franke says:

      *bumps fists for twinsie opinions*

      Yes, at first I was all “can we be done with this guy?” and by the end I really cared for him, and was super concerned that he stay clean. I do wish Nan’s story had had more resolution, but oh well. It was cool how the friendships reverted back, since Sam used to be closer to Tim than Nan.

      For sure!

  2. Nara says:

    Jase <3 He was so swoony. He's definitely quite high on my list of book boyfriends haha. Their first meeting was so funny- how Jase was all "uh, I can take the hint" etc etc.

    I notice you haven't said anything about George. Did you like him? I thought he was the cutest with his always thinking the worst of things. Also: "hey, you guys have got nothing on top!" hahaha

    I have to say, I never really noticed the "mommy" thing in the book. Did they say that often? Can't remember…

    Did you know the author is writing a sequel? It's based on Tim and Alice 😀
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    • Christina Franke says:

      Jase would go on my book boyfriend list if I were into football players and if he weren’t so convincingly a teen. I generally age them up in my head, but he was a kid, and so I just love him for Sam. Probably for the best, since he is fictional. *sighs*

      Oh, yeah, I did think George was adorable! His worst case scenarios. Poor kid. Minus the bed-wetting, he’s one of the coolest little kids.

      Hmmm, often? Maybe not, but it did happen a handful of times.

      I did know about the sequel, but didn’t know it was Tim and Alice, since at the time it was announced a sequel meant little to me. Happiness for Tim! YAY!

  3. Meg says:

    I’m glad you liked it! Judith and Debby recommended it to me and I thought it was pretty cute. I completely agree with your spoilery Samantha critique (I mean come on, really?) and I also loved Tim to pieces. I was also a little put off by the end, I thought it was kind of abrupt, but I guess where else was the story going to go?
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    • Christina Franke says:

      Definitely pretty cute. Samantha in general isn’t my favorite heroine, though she was nice. But I prefer my heroines a bit snarkier and more personality-filled. However, it’s probably best that they’re not ALL like that.

      I just wasn’t sure if I should be glad that he forgave her or not. And that the mom got off so easily. Sigh.

  4. This was one of my favourite books from last year; I keep wanting to re-read it. I had completely forgotten about so many of the details like the condom scene. I really couldn’t agree more with your review if I tried!
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    • Christina Franke says:

      The condom scene was probably my favorite part, though really all of their relationship was adorable to the max. Gah! The frank discussion of condoms made me laugh out loud for real.

  5. I LOVED this book to pieces. TO PIECES.

    Everything you mentioned in your review was everything I thought at the time. I, however, did not mention that much about Tim although I did care for him a lot. I cared for him more than I did for Nan. Nan was just so… ugh. I like the turnaround at the end where Tim ended up regaining that close friendship he had with Sam initially.

    Also, I didn’t like how Sam handled the whole spoiler issues as well. I would have spoken up way before then–and I also couldn’t believe that Jase forgive her. But I did want them to end up together and it did take a little time before he forgave her. Sigh.

    As for Sam’s mom, that was a major issue for me. I believed–and still do!–that she deserved to be punished.

    Overall I’m SO happy that you loved it! *giddy claps* LOVED Jase! And his messy, loud family. Esp the little kids. <3<3
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    • Nan was definitely ugh from the name to the cheating to the not being a real friend. I wanted her to get hers in the end, but nope. Of course, that’s sort of realistic, but sigh. The friend swap was great, I agree.

      I’m giving her a bit of an out for being young, but I’d hope teen me would speak out. Still, it would be scary to risk the foster system.

      Jase! And the Garretts. They rule so hard. Even though I hate kids. Haha.
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  6. I’ve heard such good things about this book! It’s waiting for me to pick up on my bookshelf, but I think that I’m going to wait for summer to read it. For some reason, summer seems like the time I should read contemporary fiction, haha. It’s not my normal genre, but it’s come so highly recommended, that I really can’t wait to read it.
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    • Christina Franke says:

      Haha, this does seem like a summer book, since that’s when it’s set, so there’s a logic to waiting if that feels right to you!

  7. I enjoyed this one until the end twist. I thought it was completely unbelievable. It annoyed me that a book that adorable ended with me loathing it. I was’t even able to write a review of it because I kept going all ranty on it 🙂 Great review, as always, Christina. I didn’t know that this was the first of a series. Will be interested to see how that plays out!
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    • Christina Franke says:

      The actual scene that prompted the twist was mind-boggling. How would you not be more curious about what had just happened, even if you were asleep until it occurred? How would you not put the pieces together sooner?

      They’re actually more companion novels. The next book is about Tim and Alice.

  8. LOL on the mommy thing, for some odd reason that makes me think of when I call my mom ‘mom’ and how one time when I was a kid, I called her by her name, Donna, and she was like my name is Mom. LOL.


    Love your love of Jase. Glad you got to read a winner for Sadie Hawkins!
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  9. Shelly says:

    I haven’t read this one yet but it seems so cute! I’m only worried about the ending though (I didn’t read the spoiler!) and you said that you feel like Jase deserves better and now I have a fear of something bad happening! Awesome review and I will keep an eye out for this one 🙂
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  10. I’m so glad you loved this one! I had a couple of issues with it, but they were not major enough for me to disown the book. I really liked it as well!

    The Garrett family was adorable, and they reminded me a little bit of my own… just with more loving and less violent fights between the siblings. My brothers are crazy, what can I say.

    Samantha’s attitude towards her mother and the incident towards the end totally put me off her character. I like to pretend that that part of her storyline didn’t happen that way, because it was idiotic and honestly rather horrible.

    I can’t wait to buy a hardback copy of this! Sometimes borrowing books from friends is annoying. I need it on my shelf!
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  11. Lili says:

    AHHH! Okay, I just finished this book about two hours ago because someone put it in my reader’s choice too.

    I have to say I pretty much agree and it’s making me cringe that our reviews on this one are practically one in the same. Well, actually, it makes me feel great, but the similarities are everywhere and my originality is flying out of the window.

    Your favorite quote. Yeah, that was my favorite too. I cackled a little after that one haha <3

    The Garrett's are my favorite family. Ever. I haven't found a family that was so nice, so amazing and sweet. It's what YA NEEDS and Fitzpatrick is on my forever buy list now because she's capable of giving us that.

    The story of first love and everything made me all warm and fuzzy inside. I WANT THAT!

    Like you, I hated Tim in the beginning, but I adore him now. It's true what they say…it takes a tragedy (or a near tragedy) to convince people to get their ass into gear. I'm slightly frustrated with the lack of closure with Nan. I hate that I loved her then began to hate her. No girl can't NOT have a best friend and, well, Nan is sort of a sucky person when all is said and done, but gah! Why?!

    And that sad twist at the end… Firstly, it broke my heart. Secondly, I put two and two together much faster than our MC which bugged me a little, but how she chose to handle it and how her mother chose to handle it really pissed me off. Her mother more than her, but gah! Like…YOU ARE A MOTHER THAT RESEMBLES A SUPERFICIAL JACKHOLE INSTEAD OF A NURTURING HUMAN BEING. I get mad just thinking about it because I love the Garrett's so much.

    I'm done, I could rant for ages on that twist. Unique? Yes. Frustrating? YES.

  12. Judith says:

    I’m sooooo happy you loved this! It’s one of my favorite YA books ever, even though I didn’t like the drama towards the end at all. I think it was 4 stars for me, but it’s still one of those books I just can’t stop thinking about, mostly because it’s such a great, NORMAL book. Sam and Jase are adorable together, but also very realistic. The Garretts are my favorite fictional family, right after the Weasleys. I’m glad that you even liked the kids 😉 Tim’s story was also a great aspect, and I’m so excited to read his story, even though I think that won’t be released until 2015.
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  13. Ellis says:

    RAMBUNCTIOUS is my new favourite word. I also realised how much more highbrow your reviews are compared to mine. Pretty and erudite words everywhere.

    You already know what I think (if you remember) so I’m half answering to your comment here. First off, a flawed 4.5 is still very impressive. I honestly didn’t think I would like this book so much. I don’t do well with contemporary because almost every one I’ve read so far has a rushed HEA. That throws me out of the story every time, because we’re dealing with real life here and HEAs are not so omnipresent, to be honest.

    Here too, I felt that things were resolved too quickly. The balance was off. Sam denies the twist for so long (or stays passive about it) and then all of a sudden everything happens at once and it turns out okay. It’s very possible that I should just read more contemporary. I did think that Jase’s parents’ reaction was in line with their character. Had Alice been the head of this family, things would have turned out very differently for Sam’s family. (Also, I can’t believe that creepy boyfriend got scot-free. In a way, they enabled him to pull the same shenanigans with a new family.)

    Sex was handled exquisitely. I didn’t love it that she started comparing everything to “the movies”, but it was so awkward. I liked these two so much together that I actually wanted them to have perfect, magical sex. I can just never win with myself. When it came to sex, it showed how much at ease they were with each other. Buying condoms was a good example of that. They were so attuned to each other that it all seemed to be so effortless for them. I loved how not forced their interactions were.

    Tim’s arc was so impressive! I loved him, even when I hated him. I guess a lot has to do with the fact that he still made me laugh, even when he was the biggest asshole ever. I feel that Fitzpatrick took some very commendable risks with the relationships here. (Also, fuck Nan. Seriously. I’ve never liked her one bit.) I liked Sam. I expected her to be blander. She was wittier than I thought she would be. I also suspected to swoon a bit more over Jase. While he was completely adorable, I needed a bit of an edge with that adorableness.

    Ha, the book that makes you feel for the chilluns deserves an award in itself. I loved his family. It’s what made it such a strong read for me. George is the cutest, their dynamic is amazing and the parents were such a healthy example for parents in YA. No Disappearing Parents Syndrome whatsoever. I want Fitzpatrick to write all the books. I’m pretty (read: extremely) jealous that you got What I Thought Was True this week!
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