Wednesday, September 4, 2013

You Make Me Feel Like I'm Living a Teenage Dream, The Way You Turn Me On

“I don't know. 
I didn't have that choice. 
But I know what's happening now. 
And I'm choosing to stay with you.”
--Huntley Fitzpatrick, My Life Next Door

Genre: YA Contemporary
Publisher: Dial Books for Young Readers, 394 pages
Publication Date: June 14th, 2012
Source: Borrowed
Goodreads

Goodreads Description

"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, messy, affectionate. And every day from her rooftop perch, Samantha Reed wishes she was one of them . . . until one summer evening, Jase Garrett climbs up next to her and changes everything.

As the two fall fiercely for each other, stumbling through the awkwardness and awesomeness of first love, Jase's family embraces Samantha - even as she keeps him a secret from her own. Then something unthinkable happens, and the bottom drops out of Samantha's world. She's suddenly faced with an impossible decision. Which perfect family will save her? Or is it time she saved herself?

A transporting debut about family, friendship, first romance, and how to be true to one person you love without betraying another.

My Thoughts

Ok, so we all know how I feel about contemporaries...excuse me, contemporaries that DON'T deal with deeply-rooted emotional issues. Fluff is not my thing, I just don't have time for it. I thought that My Life Next Door would be just this. A contemporary without a lot of real-life issues involved...How wrong I was...

This book was everything you would want in a summer read. It was captivating, well-written, and the characterization is amazing. Samantha Reed is a privileged daughter of the state Senator who has watched her next door neighbors, the Garretts, since they moved in 10 years ago. They have 8 children so the entertainment factor is never an issue. Sam eventually meets Jase, one of the many Garretts, in a very swoon-worthy entrance (well done, Huntley Fitzpatrick, well done) and their relationship takes off from there.

If I learned one thing from Book Bangin', it is that I NEEDED to meet Jase Garrett. Drop-everything-and-read-this-book kind of need. He was on EVERYONE'S list so I had high expectations. He lived up to them all. Jase and Sam's relationship is one of the best I have ever read. I know that's saying a lot but it is true. Their progression is realistic and sweet and innocent in a sigh-inducing way. Their journey to learning about one another and getting to know each other was beautiful. What I loved most about it though was the maturity and honesty with how the author wrote about sex. I was so impressed with how Fitzpatrick wrote about the discussion of sex and the decisions to have or not to have. I have never read a book that discussed the topic/decision in such a realistic way. It was refreshing and I was just blown away with how well this aspect was done. 

I love my female characters strong and kick-ass and while Sam wasn't wielding any swords, I still really liked her. She was mature, she spoke her mind, she was not judgmental  and at the end of the day, she does the right thing. Jase...Jase. Alright, ladies. I get it now. He is pretty swoony and I LOVED him. While I am all about the broken soul and tortured hero, Jase reminded me of how underappreciated the good guy is. He is everything I would want my future daughter to have as a teenager, and somebody I wish existed a decade ago. It might give me a little more hope for men everywhere :) 

The family dynamics of the Garretts was by far my FAVORITE part of the story. My mother comes from a family of 6, and I want to have a huge family as well. Maybe not 8 or 6 but definitely a handful. Their love for one another is palpable and breaths life into this story. Keeping track of 8 kids plus 2 parents would seem overwhelming but Fitzpatrick characterizes each individual so well with certain quirks and details that you never confuse them. They anchored the story and I loved falling in love with them right along with Sam.

This book explores the idea of money, happiness, and choices. I loved the juxtaposition between Sam's money-wealthy family vs Jase's love-wealthy family. I agree with Mrs. Garrett, they're rich in everything that matters. I would love to be a part of the Garrett family, even if it meant living in a trailer park. The choices presented in this book never came easy but they did their best to be right. I was as frustrated as Sam when the adults of this book looked down on her for thinking her choices were "easier" because she is only a teenager, and that as an adult, things aren't as simple or "black and white." I think a lot of people see in this gray area and I don't get it. While I agree that there is always more than one side to a situation, a lot of times at the end of the day, the result can be seen in very simple terms, right vs wrong. Sam got that, Jase got that, I got that. I really liked how this idea was presented and how the right decision is not the easiest but you need to do what is right. Actions have consequences and no matter who you are, you need to be accountable for those actions. 

This contemporary was definitely not fluff and I was surprised with how much I feel in love with this book. It was a fantastic summer read and a beautifully written first love story. It has a lot of feels and all the sighs.

Should You Read This? Definitely. If you want a fun book with real life issues, you will love this. While the issues are real, this book is a perfect summer read without being too heavy. 

9 comments:

  1. I agree with every word you wrote and you said it so well - especially about the love within the Garrett family and the depth of the characterization. I WANT MORE Garrett stories! LOVE LOVE LOVE this book!

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  2. I 100% agree with everything you wrote. My Life Next Door is one of my favorite books ever - because of The Garretts (um how adorable was George?!) and of course, Sam and Jase. When I think about book boyfriends, Jase is still the first guy I think of and I read this book over a year ago! Where were guys like this when I was their age? Or now, for that matter! Haha. Great review!!

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  3. JASE!!!! you know I have nothing to add... LOL I'm so glad you love him like I do. :)

    xo
    jaime

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  4. I just read this book too and I looooved it!! Especially George, I just want to squeeze him and love him til his eyes pop out haha! And Jase...le sigh. I want a Jase.

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  5. This is one of my all time favorite books. My book club is having a secret book exchange and this is the book I have chosen to give as a gift. I can't wait for other people to read this book. Seems like no one I know has read it yet. CRAZY! People need to read this book.

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  6. what a great review! loved this book much more than i expected & Jase was a big rason why. but i also loved Tim, Sam's friend & the entire Garrett family. i heard that there's supposedly a sequel? ~daphne

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  7. I loved the Garretts so much too! They were seriously amazing. I just loved the whole setup for this book - so adorable and enjoyable! I didn't love some of the drama toward the end (made the pacing feel a little off for me), but I was happy with the way it was resolved. And that cover?! One of my fave contemporary covers!

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  8. I keep hearing AMAZING things about this book (and Jase ;) )! It's now staring me down from my shelf, I should really just pick it up...
    I love a sweet contemporary and I like a little fluff every now and then ;) and I really respect it when authors can have sex or a discussion about it in a novel and have it make sense. That almost never happens!

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  9. I want to reread this book soooo baaaaad. And I'm SO HAPPY you liked it! I like fluff, but this book was definitely NOT fluffy or cheesy and I'm so glad for that. Jase and Sam are probably one of my favorite couples of all time because their relationship is just so normal and healthy and cute and real and ahhh. I adore them. The Garrett family is so wonderful, and DEFINITELY my favorite part of this series. Are you excited for the companion novel or what?!?!

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