Thursday, August 16, 2012

Book Review: My Life Next Door by Huntley Fitzpatrick

Samantha Reed has a perfect life - at least on the outside.  Perfect house, perfect Senator mom with a trust fund, everything neat, tidy, organized, and in its place, right down to the ever-present vacuum lines on the living room carpet.  Every moment planned, every job, every grade a resume-builder designed to get her into the perfect college and on her way toward her own perfect future.  But perfect isn't so perfect - it's lonely.

With her rebel sister and ally Tracy away for the summer waitressing on the Vineyard and her mom busy campaigning for the fall election, Samantha is left pretty much on her own, the long summer stretching in front of her.  Still, she has her best friend Nan and Nan's twin Tim to keep her busy - especially when keeping Tim out of trouble is pretty much a full time job.  And, of course, there's the Garretts.

Messy, loud, disorganized, chaotic and overflowing with love for each other, the Garretts are the eight-kids-and-another-one-on-the-way family next door, and are everything that Samantha's mom abhors.  Samantha is completely fascinated with them.  Her bedroom balcony overlooks their backyard, and she's been watching the Garretts since she was a little kid, even though she's never really spoken to any of them - her mom would be horrified.

Until Jace Garrett literally climbs up the trellis, onto Samantha's balcony, and asks her if she needs rescuing.  Samantha is suddenly, completely, totally, head-over-heels in love - with Jace, and with his big, fun, loud, fabulous family.  Samantha suddenly is rescued from her perfect life, in the most perfectly not perfect way ever.  And with her mom gone all day every day with election picnics, ribbon-cutting ceremonies, dinners, and speeches, it's not too hard to just sort of not tell her that she and the boy next door are together.

But when something truly terrible happens, shattering Sam's idyllic summer and the illusion of perfect her mom has worked so hard to create, Sam realizes that some secrets are not meant to be kept, especially from the people you love.  And  Sam has to figure out how to do the right thing - even when doing the right thing will blow your world apart.

Sarah Dessen and Deb Caletti fans, rejoice - there's a new author to add to your list of must-reads!  I love love loved this sweet summer romance that was oh so much more.  Jace and his family were total awesomeness.  I would babysit the Garretts any day - especially serious, literal and fact-loving little brother George, and funny baby Patsy.  Sam has some tough stuff to deal with - a pretty spectacularly horrible mother and her seriously shady campaign manager/boyfriend, best friend Nan's overachiever issues, Tim's party boy persona, and some major catastrophe.  Still, I loved how she powered through it all, staying true to herself, the Garretts, and especially Jace.  Make sure you take time for My Life Next Door on one of these last weekends of summer - and pour yourself a glass of ice cold lemonade with lemon peel and mint in the cubes to go with it!

(now loving For Darkness Shows the Stars by Diana Peterfreund!)

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