As far as cute, summery contemporaries go, I’ve definitely read better. There were a few things that this book did well, but I would rather read a Sophie Kinsella, Morgan Matson, or Stephanie Perkins book any day! I wouldn’t advise skipping this one altogether if you’re looking for a light, cute read; however, there are many others I would recommend before this one.
My Life Next Door is about a girl named Samantha who is fascinated by her neighbours, the Garretts, because they are so unlike her own family. Her mother is a politician who is very distant and cool with her daughters, and Samantha doesn’t have a close relationship with her sister either. The Garretts, however, are a loud, chaotic, and close-knit family. This book follows Samantha as she falls in love with Jace, one of the Garrett siblings and all the crazy stuff that happens in their first summer together.
Like I said in the intro of this review, this book did a couple of things particularly well. The main aspect I appreciated was the discussion of sex in the novel. I was really impressed that this book broached the topic of teen sex, because a lot of cutesy teen YA contemporaries don’t. Sex is such an important topic, and I’ve always been an advocate for sex to be addressed in YA. I feel that teens should see the situations they may deal with in their real lives reflected in the literature that they’re reading, and these situations definitely include the decision to have sex for the first time or being sexually active. I’m not going to address casual sex or sex outside of romantic relationships right now because that is not the situation we find in this novel, but teens who are falling in love and are in relationships are having sex! They are experiencing all of the excitement, nervousness, and multitudes of feelings that come with sleeping with someone for the first time, and I loved that we got to take that journey with Samantha and Jace. A second little bright spot in this novel for me was Jace’s little brother, George, because he was hilarious and adorable! I just had to mention him in this review because he was definitely my favourite character 😛
So, why was this book a 2 teacup read for me? First of all, I know the point of Samantha’s mother is that she is an emotionally distant, stone-cold bitch, but I couldn’t stand her! I found that she was very one dimensional in her horridness, and there was no redemption for her in the end. I know it was probably a little optimistic of me to expect the mother to realize what a horrible mother she had been and to try to work on being a better family, but that’s what I was expecting. No dice.
Also the “unthinkable thing” that the synopsis promises was kind of random and I didn’t really see a resolution that would have been satisfying for the situation. It seemed like a pointless plot twist for the sake of having a plot twist. Furthermore, there were other aspects of this story that I felt weren’t resolved, and I’m not a fan of leaving too many things unaddressed. If you’re going to throw a problem at us, at least show us that it’s on the way to being solved. Don’t just leave us hanging!
Overall, this book was okay. It definitely wouldn’t be the first thing I would recommend and I don’t think I will pick up anything from Huntley Fitzpatrick in the future. I’m not completely writing her off, but she won’t be the first author I reach for when I’m looking for a cute contemporary. Like I said, I’ve read so many amazing contemporaries at this point, that it’s hard for anything else to compete!
To learn more about Huntley Fitzpatrick and her books you can visit her website here –> http://www.huntleyfitzpatrick.com/