Review of Huntley Fitzpatrick’s MY LIFE NEXT DOOR

PJ here on this fine Tuesday. I’ll admit that it took me quite a while to finish reading this  book since I’ve been under an avalanche of “to-do’s” getting ready for the release of my next book. But I assure you, that is no reflection on how awesome MY LIFE NEXT DOOR was.
Here’s a short blurb from the book:

“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, numerous, messy, affectionate. And every day from her balcony perch, seventeen-year-old Samantha Reed wishes she was one of them . . . until one summer evening, Jase Garrett climbs her terrace and changes everything. As the two fall fiercely in love, Jase’s family makes Samantha one of their own. Then in an instant, the bottom drops out of her world and she is suddenly faced with an impossible decision. Which perfect family will save her? Or is it time she saved herself?

And this is my review:

“MY LIFE NEXT DOOR is one of those books where each character is so engaging, they need their own story.” PJ Sharon, YA Author

Bravo for Huntley Fitzpatrick’s debut novel. I was swept away in this sweet teen love story, captivated by the natural progression of Samantha and Jase’s relationship. I happily plunged into the wonderfully chaotic world of the Garrett family, and felt Samantha’s transformation from lonely and privileged girl locked into living up to her mother’s perfectionism, to a young woman who learns about love and family as she is accepted into the Garrett’s home. Having grown up in a family of seven children myself, I could totally relate to the wacky happenings in the Garrett household, and Ms. Fitzpatrick captured the family dynamics perfectly, giving unique voice to each and every family member, right down to baby Patsy whose only words, “boob” and “poop” were perfectly timed and totally appropriate.

I loved the way the author exposed the contrast between Sam’s whitewashed but less than perfect life, and the next door neighbor’s messy, but love-filled household. The characters became so real as the story unfolded, that I fell in love with each of them, wishing I had more time to spend just hanging out in the yard by their pool. Tim, the twin brother of Sam’s best friend, was particularly well-drawn as the reformed bad-boy on the road to recovery, and most definitely deserves his own book.

Filled with realistic dialogue and heart breaking situations, the difficult relationship between Samantha and her mother—who is distracted and driven to succeed in the political arena—felt genuine. It was a clear motivating factor in Samantha’s quest to be part of something real and cohesive. As much as this was a sweet and perfectly steamy teen romance, it was also a story of innocence lost, and a true coming of age story where a young girl must choose to stand up for what’s right, no matter the consequences. Beautifully written, and easily one of the best teen novels I’ve read this year. I highly recommend it!

I’m looking forward to seeing what Huntley comes up with next!

What’s the best book you’ve read this year? Do you like reading YA? Have you tried it?
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7 thoughts on “Review of Huntley Fitzpatrick’s MY LIFE NEXT DOOR”

  1. This may be the best book I’ve read this year, PJ! I agree with everything you’ve said. What I loved most was how Huntley made the teenage characters so layered. The kids sounded like kids today, but they were thoughtful and intelligent, too. And the plot had such a great twist to it! I’m glad the book is getting such great attention.

  2. Absolutely, Kristan. The depth of the characters makes them leap off the page. I would have thought that writing so many characters into one family would make them all meld into one voice, but each Garrett child had so much personality, you could easily differentiate them. Wasn’t George (ironically so curious), just the funniest little kid? And baby Patsy totally stole my heart. Much deserved accolades to our CTRWA buddy, Huntley…who incidentally is appearing at RJ Julia book store in Madison, CT this Thursday evening if anyone wants to meet her and get a signed copy of the book:-) She is one of the most delightful people on the planet!

  3. Paula, what an incredible review. Thank you for your insight in contrasts and acknowledgment of a young girl choosing to stand up for what’s right, no matter the consequences. I will add the book to my “must reads list.”

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