Sunday, July 29, 2012

Review: My Life Next Door

Publisher: Dial Books for Young Readers
Date of Release: June 14, 2012
Page Count: 395
Would appeal to: Fans of Sarah Dessen, Sarah Ockler, Sara Zarr, or anyone who wants to fall in love with a love story

Favorite Quotes:
"It's so weird sitting there in the kitchen with this woman I've seen from a distance for ten years. Like finding yourself in an elevator with a celebrity. I repress the urge to say 'I'm a huge fan.'"

"We watch the hawk circling for a few minutes, then he reaches over and takes my hand, squeezes it, and holds on. The river sighs around us, and the little gears in my body that were spinning at breakneck speed all day slow to the lazy speed of the hawk, and the slow beat of my heart."

"It's a far cry from Hodges, which is built like a fortress, with battlements, stained-glass windows, and portcullises. It even has a drawbridge, because you never know when your prep school might be attacked by the Saxons."

"Clay rests his hand in the small of her back, propelling her, as we edge out into the night, which isn't even really dark, kind of tea-colored, since we're in the city."

"I want to reach into her argument and pick out the thread that's wrong, but it all seems like a tangle."

So you know all those reviews that have been hyping this book? They know what they're talking about. You know that last $20 you have from your paycheck that's burning a hole in your wallet but you really shouldn't buy a book because you bought three last week? Ignore your conscience...get this book!

Samantha has watched the Garretts for years, but her state senator mother forbids her and her sister Tracy to have any contact with their next door neighbors. A family with eight kids that leaves toys on their lawn and the Christmas lights up longer than necessary is not a family they need to be associated with. When Jace comes over and says hi to Samanatha, everything changes. She is sucked into a different world. Although it's crazy, it's full of love. As she becomes babysitter, she finds this out quickly. Samantha has a big house, an up-and-coming mom, and the perfect boyfriend, but she learns everything can change in the blink of an eye.

Why You Need to Run Right Out and Buy This Right Now:
I can't believe this is Huntley Fitzpatrick's first novel. She writes with the flow and insight of an author with several books. She says on her website that she kept some of her teenage diaries and reread them, and she definitely channeled her inner-teen. There are so many great my-life-is-over moments, particularly with young Andy who's trying to kiss her first boy ever.

It's full of great characters. You can't not love George, the little four year old obsessed with the Discovery channel, fearing things like black holes and what ice cream's made of. He says the best, most random things that give this story a ton of its humor. I love Alice's overprotectiveness of Jase. Andy's obsession with kissing correctly the first time. And Patsy's interesting first words as the baby.

Ever been to a zoo? The Garrett house is like that. In the best way possible.You'll be swept up in the little moments. I liked the way each sibling takes on a role within the family and how it's easy to tell each sibling apart early on because each is unique. And their parents are in the kind of love that gives you hope!

Jace is wonderful, in fact, very easy to fall for. Sometimes you think, Seen this guy before, but Jace stood out for me. He can fix anything. He loves animals and helping any and all creatures or humans. He carefully thinks through any kind of problem, even his words, so he won't offend Samantha. He's not embarrassed to try out something new that Samantha has also not tried out (no spoilers here). Oh my gosh, I wish I had one of him growing up! Not everyone has to be the bad boy!

If you're a girl, you will appreciate the friendship between Nan and Samantha. Nan shows an interesting, imperfect side of herself that actually reminds me of one or two people I knew growing up. And then there's the ever-wasted, habitual screw-up, Tim, her brother. Great character. Lots of depth. Became one of my favorites by the end.

Intense plot turn! This story asks hard questions about the difference between right and wrong. I really got into Samantha's head when things started unravelling. The chapters are short and have great need-to-turn-the-page moments. This book will make you sigh out loud. It will stick with you until you have to take it out again.

My Issues:
Jace is almost too understanding at times. I feel like there could have been longer fights between him and Samantha, especially since Jace is so kind and would expect that in return from his girlfriend.

When Jace calls Sam his "girlfriend" for the first time in public, even if it's just Tim, there's no acknowledgement from Sam like "Did I really just hear that correctly?" They didn't have a talk as to their status prior to that, so I'd assume she'd have a moment of giddiness/freakout/celebration at that point.

Final verdict:
Samantha and Jace's experience with first love will make you long to revisit yours; the quickening heartbeat, the reaching for tissues, the knowledge that someone else is rooting for your success in such a crazy world.


Andrea @ Cozy Up said...

I really need to check this book out. I love the idea of this contemporary story that so clearly shows such different family backgrounds. Great review... definitely need to spend the money from my next paycheck on this one ;)

Bookworm1858 said...

I like your "Would appeal to"-apparently Sara(h)'s dominate YA contemp :)

This is going to be my next read so I'm happy to see a rave review of it-I hope I love it as much!

Jenna and Ashley said...

I hope you both like it! And I do have a thing for the three Sarah's...well, one Sara:) But I have a feeling Huntley will come out with some other awesome stuff!

Joie said...

I was also pretty shocked that this was Fitzpatrick's first book and it was so darn good!
George will forever hold a special part in my heart with his cuetness (especially his marriage proposal!) and Jase too. <3
Fabulous review! :)

Liz. R said...

Glad to know this one lives up to the hype! I am very much a character girl so I definitely like the fact there are so many great ones here! I like that the story asks hard questions too - books that made you think are always the best. Great review! :)