Book Review: My Life Next Door by Huntley Fitzpatrick

Posted August 18, 2013 by Debby in Reviews / 17 Comments

Book Review: My Life Next Door by Huntley FitzpatrickMy Life Next Door by Huntley Fitzpatrick
Series: My Life Next Door #1
Published by Dial Books for Young Readers on June 14th, 2012
Genres: Contemporary, Romance, Young Adult
Pages: 394
Format: eBook
Source: Purchased

"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.

3.5 Stars

My Life Next Door came to my doorstep with a fair amount of hype. *eyes Judith, Cassie* So when the time came and I was eagerly looking for a contemporary romance to lift my spirits, I knew where to turn to. While the beginning was exactly what I was looking for, it quickly petered off, and at the end of the day, due to the high expectations, I was kind of let down.

As a contemporary romance, My Life Next Door delivers on the adorability factor. Sam and Jase are definitely cute together. Jase is just about everything you want in a young adult love interest: he’s hot, entirely selfless, strong but caring, and just an all around “good guy”. So when Sam and Jase start to fall for each other, I was so pleased. I enjoyed every single minute. (“You have to kiss me.” – MELTING.) And I thought, this is all I could ask for. But! That was only about the first half of the book.

And here’s the problem with me and contemporary romance: I tend to get bored when the “build up” to a relationship ends and the relationship begins. I mean, they were still cute together, but it bordered on too sappy for me. And since the relationship was not complicated at all (at that point) I started to get a bit bored. (I’m so sorry, MLND fans!) It didn’t help that I developed such a violent hatred towards Sam’s mother that I either wanted to kill her or chuck my e-reader across the room. I mean, I understand parental frustrations and that that was a crucial point and part of the story, but it bordered on too much for me. And I just couldn’t understand that Sam could take so much crap from her mother without saying anything. (Her mother is seriously INSANE – and one of the worst parents I have ever encountered in YA.) It almost made me lose all respect for her. On the other hand, I loved reading about the family dynamics in the Garrett family, and I liked the contrast. (George was adorable.)

Though my interest had waned, at two thirds of the novel, there was a pretty massive plot twist which kept me reading. The question of loyalty between family and the one you love truly sparkled and was interesting to think about – questions of right and wrong, and so forth. But was it everything I was hoping for? No. I dunno. Halfway through the novel, MLND had lost me, and it never really won me back.

In terms of characters, Jase was so static and though I really liked him at the start, the lack of character development remained an issue with me. Sam as a character hovered between slightly liking and being completely frustrated at her inaction. Tim may have been the most interesting character of all, and I definitely had massive amount of respect for him at the end. I am perhaps most disappointed that the situation with Nan was never resolved, which I just cannot understand. And, of course, even at the end, I had a violent hatred towards Sam’s mother.

Finally, the last chapter left a bunch of unanswered questions. It’s of course not always necessary that the ending is clearly spelled out to a T for you in every novel, but the way My Life Next Door hinted at upcoming resolutions and changes and then did not show the follow through? It just annoyed me.

Summing Up:

I wanted to like My Life Next Door, and I did. But I set out to completely fall head over heels for it like my friends, and sadly it fell a bit flat. It may be mostly a case of too-high-expectations, but this is the truth. I loved the first half, and the Garrett family, but at a certain point, the story kind of lost me. The build up was too fast, the story and characters lacked true complexity to a certain extent… I had my fair share of annoyances, and the cuteness of the romance could not really make up for those. So this is a cute romance when you’re in need of cheering up, or at the beach, or something like that.

But after Kody Keplinger, I guess I just expect a bit more from my contemporary romances. I’ve been spoiled by KK’s original and beautifully realistic storylines, and I am intensely tired of the bitchy best friend and the absentee/horrible parents. Not to say this is bad – I still enjoyed it. It’s just not the best.

GIF it to me straight!

Recommended To:

Fans of contemporary romance.

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17 responses to “Book Review: My Life Next Door by Huntley Fitzpatrick

  1. Even though I really, really liked this one, I can definitely see where you're coming from in regards to character development. MLND is a bit lacking there.
    I'm hoping Fitzpatrick's next book, What I Thought Was True, will have more character growth and another adorable couple.

  2. readerswonderland

    Love your review, Debby! All the hype has been getting to me lately too, so it's nice to read a review that isn't totally gushing over the book. I really have a thing against books that don't have a 100% wrapped up ending.

    Alise @ Readers in Wonderland

  3. Pam@YAEscape

    I think I enjoyed the book more than you did, but I agree with you on some points. I was disappointed that the situation with Nan wasn't resolved, and I was like you, I completely hated her mother. What a horrible parent! And I ended up loving Tim, he really turned things around and came through for both Sam and Jase.
    My recent post Book Review: Shadows by Paula Weston

  4. I JUST read this book and agree with a lot of what you said. I loved the romance and thought Sam and Jase were adorable and Jase was pretty swoony and fantastic. And her mom?!?! YES! To everything you said. It was physically angering to me. My chest hurt. It was a bit too much and ridiculous how calculating, stupid, and cruel her mother could be. It was a fun read, I really liked it, but it wasn't life changing. I did also like that shit finally got a little real towards the middle with some real issues. And Time, by far, was the best character. So interesting. Great review!! 🙂

  5. Shannelle (The Tracery of Ink)

    Aaaah! Oh no. If I ever read it, hopefully I don't notice all the things you did. Many have loved it to bits, and there are a lots of aspects I think I would enjoy too. Hopefully, I would enjoy it!

    Anyway, great review, Debby. I'm just hightailing it our of here because I want to forget what you said and hope that this book is good, if I ever read it.
    My recent post Behind the Blog Monday: Living in a Book's World

  6. SADNESS 🙁 But I do understand that you like the build-up to relationships more than the actual relationship. I like both a lot, but Sam + Jase are one of my favorite couples ever. I think it's funny that you LOVE The Duff, and I LOVE this one, but we only think the other is okay. Enjoyable, but okay. Um, anyway. There's a companion novel written from Tim's POV coming out, so you might really like that!
    My recent post Bout of Books 8.0

  7. Oh, thank goodness. I always thought I was alone in not loving this one. It just all felt so very stale and static, and while Jase was most definitely sweet, he was just too perfect.

  8. bookrockbetty

    OH SNAP! *THROWS TOMATOES* BOOOO!!! BOOOOO!!! hahaha 😉 Ughhhh….. DEBBY!!! I loved this one!!! But… I appreciate your explanation for not LOVING it as much as I wish you did. I guess I need to read some Kody Keplinger. I only have THE DUFF. What is another good one?? 🙂

  9. I really wanted to pick up this book for the same reasons you did! It really does sound dull thinking of it now though. The whole "adorability factor" is not something I look forward too. I am that tolerant of sappiness. The loose ends would irk me as well. At least the plot twist helped you out!

  10. I have to say that in a way I agree with you. I just finished this book too actually. *sigh* My expectations were high and you're right, it petered out after the first parts of the book. And I was really sad with out it ended with Nan. Come on. Give me more. And the mom? Yes I can totally understand where your feelings are coming from. I still have yet to write my review, but I'm glad to see another 3.5 review. It is possible to not be in love with this book!

  11. Tova

    I very much agree about the lack of resolution; and that Jase could have used more development. I also agree that Tim was awesome. Sam's mom of course drove me crazy, but I did kind of understand her, I guess. It was an interesting study in psychology.
    I love your rating oranges, btw 🙂
    My recent post My Life Next Door by Huntley Fitzpatrick

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