I’ll be honest with you, a lot of times I judge books by their covers. I know this is a shameful secret, but I can’t help it. If you put some pretty beach scene, or some over exposed sunlight photo it immediately grabs my attention! I’m like ohh I bet there’s a good deal of summer romance or something in here. This can work in both negative and positive ways. While I had seen several good reviews for Huntley Fitzpatrick’s My Life Next Door every time I passed it at the library I kept thinking, “I’m not in the mood for that kind of book right now.” What does that even mean?! Shame on me! Anyway, I checked it out recently and I was slow to start reading it, I paused about twenty pages in but then when I decided to take a couple baths last week I decided it was a perfect tub read! So I dove back in, and boy was I glad. It didn’t take me long to be hooked and I finished it over the weekend. It took turns I wasn’t expecting, and I love when that happens!
At the start of summer Samantha Reed is not a risk taker. She’s a good girl who obeys her crazy mother, and does everything to try and please her (whether that means working two pointless summer jobs, sticking to an 11 o’clock curfew no matter what) and essentially living a pretty boring life. Her one reprieve from all of this is that most days she climbs out on the roof to watch the chaotic adventures of the next door neighbors (who her mother has always openly looked down upon) the Garrets, as their lives unfold. There’s a lot a person can learn from seeing scenes of everyday life splayed out, but there’s a lot behind all of that, which can’t be picked up on solely based on sight. Lucky for Samantha this all changes when a new connection with one of the Garretts (a boy!) develops. This relationship doesn’t just change her summer, it changes her life.
While I thought I was going to be reading a young-adult fiction summer romance, I found myself in the middle of a story so much bigger. My Life Next Door covers a LOT of topics. From matters of the heart, to matters of the gut. Doing what’s right. Loyalty. Friendship. Love. Strength. And how all of these are intertwined in ways we can’t even begin to imagine until we have to. This story isn’t all fun and games with a little forbidden love affair. There’s trouble brewing with Sam’s best friend. Her mom, the politician is in a relationship with a guy who’s not all that trustworthy, and a “little” snaky, actually. Sam is challenged several times throughout the story. Someone she loves is battling substance abuse, the Garretts have their own struggles, her mother is dangerously swept up in her own summer romance, she’s coming to terms with getting to know herself as she really is – now that she’s starting to crawl out from under her mom’s thumb.
There are some extremely lovable characters in this book. It’s hard to not to smile (or giggle) at the antics of the Garrett siblings, sweet George’s inquisitiveness, and I’ll admit there are scenes that almost made me a little teary. I was pleasantly surprised by the depth of this novel and would definitely recommend you give it a chance if you haven’t read it yet! I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.