Bella Scotia's Reviews > My Life Next Door

My Life Next Door by Huntley Fitzpatrick
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Jul 15, 12

Read in July, 2012

Let me start with this: I loved this book!
Now I will tell you why, but I must warn you there are many reasons.

The writing is excellent for a start. The book is written in first person (does anybody write third person anymore?) from Samantha Reed's viewpoint. Fitzpatrick manages to fully capture the teenage mind perfectly. Samantha over thinks everything, but not in an annoying way. She's actually pretty funny and very together, but she was very realistically portrayed in the way that she observes everything around her with a view to how she herself fits into life.

Jase Garrett, her next door neighbour/eventual boyfriend is also pretty incredible. He is honest and open and a GOOD GUY! FINALLY, there is a male protagonist who isn't some messed up asshole that our heroine has to fix. Jase is hard working, loyal, patient, kind, loving... I could go on forever. He comes from a large family and the scenes where he takes care of his younger siblings will melt your heart. One of these scenes stuck out to me. I melted when he was carrying his sleeping brother George (probably the best child ever written, we'll get to him) to bed and yelled at his older sister because he couldn't find George's toy dog. "You know he'll freak out if he wakes up without [it]". Not many teenage boys would be so thoughtful and caring over their younger siblings.

As a couple Samantha and Jase are adorable. They also do this thing which couples in these types of books rarely do: They talk to each other. And I mean they REALLY talk. They have conversations about their feelings and their future which, while they are mature, are also laced with a rich vein of humour. I loved their discussion in the drug store when they were buying condoms.

Plot wise the story is solid, however, about half way through I did start to wonder where the story was going. We get a lot of descriptions of Samantha's every day life. Her visits to the Garrett's house, her run-ins with Tim and Nan (her twin friends) and her thoughts about her mother's burgeoning relationship with the sleazy Clay, who is helping her mother's campaign to be re-elected as senator. But it feels at times like the story isn't really going anywhere. Don't get me wrong, it's not dull, but I couldn't help but wonder where the conflict would come from. Every story has to have conflict, right?

Thankful the rich characters are enough to keep things interesting. I loved the way Fitzpatrick manages to give us insight into each character from their actions. We don't need Samantha to describe anyone to us. We understand them solely on the things they say and do and the way they say and do them. The writing is so vivid that I never once got confused by the many characters in this book. I don't know about you, but sometimes when I read a book that has a lot of different minor characters they tend to mix together at first and it can be confusing trying to figure out who's who until I get further into the story. That never happened here.

All the characters are great but some have more to do than others. Jase's older brother Joel hardly appears in the story at all. Samantha's sister is the same. She's around for a while and then barely mentioned. Jase's parents are wonderful. His mother loves babies so just keeps having more. Their large family is seen as unconventional and prompts people to approach Mrs Garrett in the supermarket to tell her about contraception. Yes, really. The nerve of some people! I love her response when Samantha asks her why she never yells at these people. It's no wonder that Jase is such a lovely caring young man when he has been raised by two parents who are so loving and gentle in nature.

Jase and Samantha aside, George and Tim are my next two favourite characters in the book.

George is Jase's four year old brother and he is simply adorable. He questions EVERYTHING and has his nose stuck in Children's national geographic a lot of the time. He takes everything literally, consoling himself at one point with the knowledge that Eskimo pies aren't really made by - or more importantly FROM - Eskimos. When he first meets Samantha he declares that he is going to marry her, but upon realising that she likes Jase he suggests she should move into Jase's room and sleep in his bed, confiding that Jase doesn't pee his bed. There is not a scene involving George that didn't make me smile.

Tim is another great character. At the beginning of the book he is a troubled teenager with a drug and alcohol problem. Samantha laments that they used to be friends but most of the time he is just mean and snarky around her nowadays. I loved the development of his character throughout the story. He is very funny and underneath the addiction problems he is a very likeable guy. His twin sister Nan is another story. She doesn't appear so prominently in the story but I like what the author did there too.

The contrast between Samantha's neat orderly life and the chaos of Jase's homelife makes for great reading. Again I'm going to mention how vivid the writing is here. The author doesn't spell things out for us by having Samantha blatantly tell us her mother is OCD, it's all there in the detail. Like Samantha's exasperation when her mother is hoovering her way out the door. SERIOUSLY, she hoovers her footprints out of the carpet as she walks backwards towards the door. Then there is the home made lemonade with the 'special' ice cubes that have a sliver of lemon and mint frozen into them. So many other little details like that add to the richness of this story.

The story flows along nicely (sagging in the middle a little bit as mentioned above) and then WHAM! Out of the blue something happens that jeopardizes the happiness that Samantha has found. Obviously I won't spoil what this is but it added some much needed tension to the story.

This book was a joy to read. It is warm and funny and is brim full of great characters. It was refreshing to read a romance where the young lovers were evenly matched and there was no mind games going on between them. Something that should probably be dull now that I'm thinking about it, but trust me, there is nothing dull about this book.

I should probably stop now. I could go on forever and probably write an essay about every character in the book, but it would be far more enjoyable if you just go read it for yourself. If you read it and like it and want to discuss it, come back and let me know.

I'm sorry if the review is rambly and repetitive. I haven't quite gotten the hang of giving good review yet. ;)
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Comments (showing 1-2 of 2) (2 new)

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Charli Denae Thanks for the rec, Bella! I've been flirting with this one for a while but I'm jumping in!! I'll let you know what I think.


Bella Scotia Cool. I hope you like it.


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