05/09/2013

Review: My Life Next Door {Huntley Fitzpatrick}


★★★★☆
Written by Huntley Fitzpatrick
Amazon | Book Depository 

The Garretts are everything the Reeds aren't. They're loud, they're messy and they're affectionate. Samantha Reed watches them from her rooftop perch, mesmerised by their lives, wishing she could be one of them. And then Jase Garrett climbs up beside her and begins it all. As the two fall fiercely for each other, stumbling through the awkwardness and awesomeness of first love, Samantha finally feels embraced by a family - even if it's not her own. But then something unthinkable happens and the bottom drops out of her world. Suddenly Samantha's faced with an impossible decision: choose between the family she's always known or the one that feels like home.
 
One of my favourite things about this book was how fantastically well-written the protagonist was. Samantha is smart, mature, considerate and stood up for what she believed in, instead of blindly following her mother or her friends. I found it so refreshing to read about a selfless, intelligent and kind girl who makes up for her mistakes and wants nothing more than to make those around her happy. 

The same cannot be said for Samantha's best friend Nan, who I could not stand. Samantha's family is rich, yes, but she still works for a living, tries hard at school and helps Nan's brother out of some pretty bad stuff. But Nan plays the typical, jealous you have everything wah, wah, card. And ain't nobody got time for that! 


Fortunately, I was able to ignore Nan whenever she appeared and focus on the whole host of awesome secondary characters, like Nan's brother Tim and Jase's brother George, who was beyond cute. He's four and can watch the Discovery Channel until the cow's come home and so begins most of his sentences with "did you know ...?"

As for Jase and Samantha's relationship; it was adorable and exactly how first love should be: sweet, surprising, awkward, clumsy and fantastic. They shopped for condoms together for heaven's sake! Which makes me love Huntley Fitzpatrick because SAFE SEX, YOU GUYS!

Also, Jase is exactly the kind of guy you'd bring home to mum (although Samantha doesn't because HER MOTHER IS TERRIBLE). Throughout the book Jase is smart, funny, unwaveringly patient, considerate, affectionate and a fantastic older brother to his siblings. I couldn't blame Samantha for falling for him because, heck, I did too.


Huntley Fitzpatrick is Dessen-esque in her ability to create fantastic characters who are down-to-earth and realistic. Her descriptions are poetic and well-thought out, her dialogue engaging and witty and her story captivating. She did a fantastic job of creating a world that pulled me in head first.

That being said, I feel like I was lulled into a false sense of security with this book. I was under the impression it'd be a nice, safe read with no earth-shattering drama. And for 90% of the book it was. There was some conflict, sure, but nothing super intense until BAM right near the end this huge thing came out of left field and left me speechless.

I won't go into detail about it because, to quote River Song, "spoilers", but I will say this: Samantha's mum is pretty much awful throughout, but after that thing happened she jumped up the scale and made me want to shake my fist in the air and yell "SCOUNDREL" really loud.

All in all this d├ębut really is a great summer read with surprising depth and poignancy. It also happened to have some of the most well-fleshed out, funny and honest characters I've had the joy to read. For me, Huntley Fitzpatrick's next novel can't come soon enough! 

"Maybe if I can just sleep for a hundred years, I'll wake up in a better story."

 

Allie has planned out a trio of marvellous desserts for Valentine's weekend. She'll be baking up a storm for love day! And that's not just a metaphor, because when she bakes, the kitchen ends up looking like it's been hit by a hurricane. But hey, the sugar makes the clean-up all worth while.
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24 comments:

  1. I'm glad you enjoyed this one, Allie! I seem to be the odd one out (I rated it 3 stars) but I'm still happy to see others found it better than I did. I personally found Sam just a little flat, and Jase was too perfect for me to really fall in love (he had no flaws!). But I did have to comment Fitzpatrick on her handling of first-time teen sex, like you. It's the best portrayal I've ever read.

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    1. I love it when authors don't go for the 'Hollywood movie' version of sex and actually show / tell it how it is. And promoting safe sex while showing it can still be romantic is such a great example, especially since books like this are read by young girls. Brave to Huntley Fitzpatrick! :D

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  2. I've been wanting to check this book out for awhile now :) I've heard some pretty great things about it. All the things you said about the characters really makes me want to bump this up my tbr! Great review :)

    Janina @ Synchronized Reading

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    1. I think you'd really enjoy it! It's the perfect book for summer romance and really surprised me with how much it drew me in :)

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  3. I've had the book on my TBR List for so long, it's ridiculous. Check out my giveaway at http://myviewpointonbooks.blogspot.com/2013/09/the-pentrals-arc-book-review-giveaway.html :)

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    1. Time to get it off the TBR and flip the pages open lol

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  4. I loved My Life Next Door, too! The characters are really down to earth and realistic. Overall, I thought this was a fantastic book! I can't wait for her next one either!

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    1. Her next book What I Thought Was True sounds just as amazing!

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  5. I'm so glad you enjoyed this book because it was one of my personal favourites last summer. It seemed like a cute summer read with a swoony romance and it was that...for like 90% until the end that was like an unexpceted shocker. I remember liking the ending but thinking it was not exactly abrupt but not finale either, I would of liked to know what direction Samantha and Jase were taking with their relationship more. Great Review!
    Lily @ Lilysboookblog

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    1. Yeah that 'event' just threw me! And the way her mum handled it at first ... not to MENTION Clay. What a complete douche!
      I thought the ending was a bit rushed, with Jase's dad and everything and how quickly it was resolved. But I enjoyed it and compared to the endings I've been left hanging on recently, I was glad this one tied things up a little more :)

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  6. I really enjoyed Sam too, she was such a great and well written character

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    1. Agreed! Huntley Fitzpatrick hit the nail on the head with her!

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  7. Oh I definitely know what you mean about the false sense of security. The book took a much darker turn than what I had been expected towards the end, but I did still enjoy the cute, easy feel of the rest of the story. And Jase! I loved him too. All the Garretts worked their way into my heart actually, especially little George. Fantastic review, Allie! :)

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    1. It really did. I wasn't at all expecting the drama. In fact, I'd kind of forgot about the blurb TELLING ME there was going to be a really dramatic incident, so when it happened I was just like, 'say what?!'

      George was possibly the most adorable character ever! All of the Garretts were great though, like you said. I'd love to see a story showing Alice Garrett and Tim together :D

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  8. Love that quote! This sounds fantastic. I've read some great reviews and I know I need to check it out at some point. I'm a big fan of contemporary stories.

    Lauren from www.shootingstarsmag.blogspot.com

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    1. Right? I thought it was a great little quote! Definitely how we all feel at some point. If you're a fan of contemporary this is definitely one for you to check out! :)

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  9. I do like a cute contemporary romance book once in awhile and the consensus is that this one is a must read. I'm glad that the issues in this were dealt with realistically. The characters sounds absolutely amazing (except for her mom!) Awesome review :D

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    1. Yeah, her mum was pretty awful for the majority of the book, especially near the end. She did redeem herself I suppose, but I still held a grudge against her :P

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  10. Aw, this does sound kind of sweet!

    I hit first love when I met my husband at 24, so it's always interesting for me to read it from a younger perspective. You had me at well-written protagonist!

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    1. Aw, that's so cute! I'm yet to find first love, so I just like reading about it from any perspective. I'm living vicariously through the characters like a cat lady ;)

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  11. Oh yes, things definitely do come out of left field at the end! Such a great book though. Glad you liked it too!

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  12. This sounds like a book I would love. I'm totally a sucker for cute little brothers or sisters, so I'm pretty sure Nan's brother will be one of my favorite characters too! :-)

    Nicole @ Feed Your Fiction Addiction

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    1. He was amazing and so much better than Nan herself - I almost wish he could've taken on the best friend role, because Nan was just so annoying!

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  13. This sounds like a book I would love. I'm totally a sucker for cute little brothers or sisters, so I'm pretty sure Nan's brother will be one of my favorite characters too! :-)

    Nicole @ Feed Your Fiction Addiction

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