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Staff Picks: “My Life Next Door” by Huntley Fitzpatrick

When I first read advance reviews and the synopsis of My Life Next Door by Huntley Fitzpatrick, I immediately requested the library order it. The novel sounded perfect for summer reading. A little romance, a little mystery…what more could you want for a poolside read?

I judge a lot by first lines, and this one hooked me: “The Garretts were forbidden from the start. But that’s not why they were important.” I can’t help but fall for a story of forbidden love!

But Jase Garrett isn’t from the wrong side of the tracks, at least not in a traditional sense. He lives right next door to Samantha and she’s been observing their raucous household from her rooftop since they first moved in.  Because Samantha’s mom is an uptight, judgmental, Republican, she’s not supposed to associate with them. Her mother disapproves of their messy yard, loud children, and that they struggle to support their large family. In this small seaside Connecticut town, having half a dozen kids is enough to make people talk. Despite her mom’s objections, Samantha begins dating Jase after he climbs up the trellis by her window one night.

“Need rescuing?” he asks.

The love story was very sweet. The back cover has a line from Simone Elkeles, author of the Perfect Chemistry series that sums it up nicely: “Jase and Samantha have a heart-warming romance every girl will envy.” The high school sweethearts are almost too perfect—but it certainly is the kind of romance every girl hopes for. You can’t help but fall in love with the whole Garrett family. They love life, and they love each other.

Before long, Samantha is a fixture at the Garretts, welcomed into their boisterous home. Samantha’s mother is so busy with her reelection campaign, she hardly notices. But when her mom is in a hit-and-run accident on the way home from a political event, it has disastrous consequences for Samantha, her mother, and the Garretts, and Samantha must decide where her true loyalties lie.

My favorite character by far was Tim, Samantha’s best friend’s bad boy brother. He was certainly the most well-drawn character of the book. I sympathized with his addiction, laughed at his wise cracks, and cheered him on as he grew and changed. George, Jase’s four-year-old brother, was outstanding and stole the show every time he turned up on the page. All of his sensitive, science-nerd antics had my heart melting. These two supporting characters were my favorite parts of the book.

Though I tend to favor fantasy and science fiction in the young adult literature I read, this was a fun book for summer. I would recommend this novel to fans of contemporary young adult romance.

Molly, YA Staff

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