book review

Review! My Life Next Door – Huntley Fitzpatrick (SPOILERS!)

“The Garrett’s are everything the Reed’s 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 Garret 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 embrace 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. – Blurb taken from Goodreads.

Three star reviews are becoming a regular occurrence on my blog at the minute. It’s not that I’m not enjoying the books I’m reading, I just haven’t found anything that’s really impressing me and grabbing my attention right now. ‘My Life Next Door‘ is a fairly easy read that was recommended to me by my best friend, and hasn’t taken me very many sittings to complete. The chapters vary in length, and a lot of the shorter ones definitely help move the story along at a faster pace.

“The Garrett’s were my bedtime story long before I ever thought I’d be part of the story myself.”

My Life Next Door‘ deals with many themes, ranging from morals, friendship, family, romance and addiction. Addiction is evident from the beginning through the character of Tim, who has been kicked out of college, fired from numerous jobs and is addicted to drugs. In one instance, near the beginning of the book Tim confronts Samantha at her workplace, demanding money to pay for more drugs, and when she refuses he steals her tips from her. This isn’t the only time during the novel that his addictions have negatively influenced his actions and behaviour towards those close to him; in a later chapter Tim recklessly drives under the influence, with both Samantha and his sister Nan in the car, resulting in the girls tossing the car keys in the woods and calling Jase to come and rescue them. Eventually Tim overcomes his addiction, attending AA meetings and working for Mr Garrett in his store, but replaces his drugs and alcohol addiction with cigarettes and sugar. 

Friendship is a big theme in this novel, and Nan and Samantha’s friendship seems rather complicated. This was one of the things that annoyed me greatly throughout the book as in parts I found it hard to distinguish if the two girls really were friends at all. Nan definitely seems to be bitter towards Samantha due to the fact that Samantha doesn’t really have to work towards anything to get what she wants. Nan has high ambitions, getting into college, leaving the place she lives, however she achieves them the wrong way, by cheating and using her brother’s old papers he wrote for college back when he attended. When Samantha pulls her up on this Nan get’s angry and chooses to end the friendship, however we never learn what comes of these two characters, and for me I think it would have been very important to tie all the ends up and include whether they make up or not, after all, friendship is important when you’re young.

The contrast between the two families was something I really enjoyed whilst reading ‘My Life Next Door‘. Whilst the Garrett’s cannot afford a lot of things, Jase has grown up always counting his blessings and knowing that even thought they may not have a lot, he has his family and that’s what is important. Mr and Mrs Garrett clearly adore all of their children and do everything for them; whereas whilst Samantha’s mom claims to do everything she does for her two children, it definitely appears to me that she neglects Samantha in a way, prioritising her work and new boyfriend over her daughter. This is where the theme of morals comes in to play. When Grace runs over Mr Garrett she is led astray by Clay, who convinces her that pretending it never happened is the best way to move forward, and even though Grace, deep down, knows that this is wrong, she goes along with it anyway, until confronted by both Samantha and Jase.

“It’s just whether you’re going to do a decent thing or keep doing shitty things. So choose.”

Character development is so important during Huntley Fitzpatrick’s novel, and is the most evident in Tim. He goes from being angry, addicted to drugs, not interested in going anywhere in life, to working two jobs recognising what is right and what is wrong, and being the one to give the advice to Samantha that she really needs at the end of the novel. Tim was by far one of my favourite characters.

Overall, I did enjoy reading this book, however it wasn’t anything I hadn’t seen before. Teenage girl falls for teenage boy, the mom disapproves,  a friendship falls apart and things go a little bit wrong. To me it was the basic layout for a contemporary young adult novel, and whilst this didn’t detract from the enjoyment I got from ‘My Life Next Door‘, I would have liked to have seen something different. That being said, I didn’t expect the accident which rendered hospital bound, so this book is far from predictable. Whilst it wasn’t my favourite, I would recommend reading this book, just as my best friend recommended it to me; it would definitely make a great Summer read in my opinion. 

Have you guys read ‘My Life Next Door‘ by Huntley Fitzpatrick? Let me know your thoughts on it in the comments!

Keep On Reading!

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