Series: My Life Next Door #1
Published by Dial Books for Young Readers on June 14th, 2012
Genres: Contemporary, Romance, Young Adult
"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.
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.