Book: My Life Next Door by Huntley Fitzpatrick (Comes out June 14, 2012)
Summary: Samantha's the daughter of a single-mother who is a senator and obsessed with order. The Garretts live next door and are the complete opposite. With children ranging in age from college to infant, they are loud, messy, and fun. Samantha has spent her whole life watching them, and when she falls in love with Jase Garrett, she finds herself having to choose between the family she grew up with and the one that accepts her as she is.
Characters: I love these characters. They are the kind of characters so real that they make the people you actually know seem fictional. I loved Sam. She is easy to relate to and easy to like. She's struggling to be a good daughter, but discovering that her point of view is important, too. Her mother is controlling, but Sam never comes off as a push-over. She thinks through everything and only pushes back when she has a reason to (that would be Jase). Jase is sweet and funny and comfortable with himself while still being an awkward teenager. They are so good together and I cheered them on from the very beginning.
Samantha's completely dysfunctional, but perfect-on-the-outside family is easy to believe. Her mother broke my heart more than anything else. I couldn't hate her, because she is too pathetic. She is completely selfish and OCD (she vacuums them out of the house each morning and leaves it on the front porch for when they get home). Sam hates her mom's new boyfriend (seriously, a jerk), but her mom is so desperate to feel wanted and be loved that she lets him control her.
On the other side of the fence, Jase's family has problems, but they deal with them instead of pretending that they don't exist. There isn't enough money and they are always in need of a babysitter, but they love each other and they enjoy what they have. There were a LOT of Garretts, but each one had a complete personality and the complex family dynamic is fully realized. I loved visiting the Garretts with Sam. Seriously, this is the kind of family everybody should have and it makes me so happy to see it in a book, because it gives me hope that this exists. (If you're interested, my family growing up was kind of a strange mix between the two.)
But amidst all of this romance and family drama is a story line that completely took me by surprise. If Sam and Jace hadn't been so completely adorable, their friend Tim would have totally stolen the show. Tim is Sam's childhood friend, the brother of her best friend Nan (Nan is not so nice). When we meet Tim, he is a stoner who wants Sam to bring him jelly beans, but not the "scary green ones". He's constantly wasted and wasting his life. Throughout the book, thanks in large part to Sam and the Garretts, he goes through a major transformation and becomes a good friend to Jase and Samantha. This story line felt honest instead of preachy and I appreciated that there weren't even hints of a love triangle. Seriously, I love Tim!
Plot/Pacing: I could not put this book down. There is way more going on than I thought there would be and it is all woven together perfectly. I was laughing and crying and dreading the end of the book, because I didn't want it to end.
Moments I Loved: Right at the beginning of the book, Jase climbs up to Samantha's window and from that moment, I loved them both. I also adored watching Samantha interact with Jase's family and the moment when Tim stands up to Sam's mom.
WTF Moments: There is a moment at the end that is alluded to in the marketing copy. It's one of those things that if you think about it too long, then it seems incredibly implausible. However, it still has a ton of emotional impact and fits well in the story, so it is easy to suspend your disbelief.
Overall: My Life Next Door will fill the void that opened up in your soul when you found out that you had to wait an extra year for Isla and the Happily Ever After. It's a sweet romance that is fun to read and digs deeper than you think it will.
Reading Challenges: This book counts toward the following challenges: 395 pages toward the 15,000 page challenge, and e-book challenge. Track all my progress on my 2012 Challenges page.
My Life Next Door gets a FakeSteph rating of...
**I received an e-galley of My Life Next Door from the publisher through NetGalley. I was in no way compensated for my review and all opinions expressed here are my own. Feel free to check out my full FTC Disclaimer on my About This Blog page.**