Friday, May 16, 2014

Em's YA Review - My Life Next Door (My Life Next Door, #1) by Huntley Fitzpatrick

Em's YA Review


"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.

Em's Review - 4 Stars:

I decided to read this book because I was perusing the shelves in the library and the spine of the book stood out, with its blue and white stripes. I also thought my friend Kristin would appreciate me reading a happy book. The first thing I noticed about the book was that I didn't really care for the author’s writing style. The book was written in first person point of view, but you could tell the narrator was either not really smart or the author was dumbing it down for us. The last thing I noticed was that the book was written in some unusual font. The cover has two people about to kiss behind a fence with some purple flower bushes. It is an odd choice for a cover because there is not much romance in the book. There are no pictures inside this book.

The theme or “So What” of this book is responsibility. Samantha Reed has always been the golden child. But one evening, she encounters Jase Garrett, her forbidden neighbor. Ever since the Garretts moved in next door a few years ago with their seven children, Samantha’s mother has never been nice, and her two children never had the courage to talk to them. But Sam and Jase grow closer, and the Garretts accept Sam even though she hasn't even told her mother about meeting Jase. Meanwhile, Sam’s mom is running for the senate and has a new, and very controlling, boyfriend, Clay. When the worst thing imaginable happens, will Sam choose her mother or Jace; right or wrong? Can Sam’s mom stop thinking about her campaign, and start thinking about what’s best for her daughter?

The main characters in this book are Samantha, Jase, Grace, Tim, and the Garrets. Samantha Reed is a senior in high school; is seventeen years old; has blond hair and blue eyes; is nice and loving; has a mom, Grace, and a sister, Tracy; and desires for her mother to accept Jase. Jase Garrett is a senior in high school; is seventeen years old; has brown hair and green eyes; is funny and smart; has six siblings, a mom, and a dad; and desires to have money to go to college. Jase is my favorite character because he is sweet and understanding. Grace is Sam’s mom; is forty six years old; has blond hair and blue eyes; is bitter and judgmental; has two daughters, Sam and Tracy; and desires to be a senator. Tim is a freshman in college; is eighteen years old; has red hair and blue eyes; is unpleasant, and has a drinking problem; has a sister and two parents; and desires to stop drinking. The Garretts consist of Mr. Garrett, Mrs. Garrett, Joel, Alice, Jase, Andy, Duff, George, and Patsy. They are all very nice, and they all have brown hair and green eyes.

My favorite passage from this book is:

"They say you never know what you would do in a hypothetical situation. We’d all like to think we’d be one of the people who gave up their lifejackets and waved a stoic good-bye from the slanting deck of the Titanic, someone who jumped in front of a bullet for a stranger, or turned and raced back up the stairs of one of the towers, in search of someone who needed help rather than our own security. But you just don’t know for sure if, when things fall apart, you’ll think safety first, or if safety will be the last thing on your mind."
This is spoken by Jase, and is the main reason that I like him so much. I love this passage because it makes me think of the errors in the human race. Yes, most of us are conceited, self-serving idiots, but there may be some people who aren't. I think that, to be happy, we must accept that we aren't perfect.

I connected My Life Next Door to Taste Test by Kelly Fiore. This is a text-to-text connection. I connected them for multiple reasons. The first reason I connected them is that, in both books, the main character is friends with someone they “shouldn't be.” In My Life Next Door, Sam is friends with Jase. In Taste Test Nora is in a cooking competition, and is friends with her fierce competitors. The next reason I connected them is that both characters have to make an important choice. Sam must choose between Jase and her mother, and Nora must choose between going to a culinary college in France, and going home. The last reason I connected them is that both books, the main character is having best friend trouble. Sam’s best friend Nan, who is barely mentioned, basically cut Sam out of her life. Nora’s best friend, Billy, is getting jealous of Nora.

I do not agree with the blurbs on the inside flaps because they don’t give a good synopsis of the book. This book exceeded my expectations because I knew nothing about the book when I picked it up, and I’m prone to choose bad books from the library. This was actually Huntley Fitzpatrick’s debut novel, so I have not read any other books by her. The sequel comes out in 2015. I also believe she is writing another series. I do think the intermediate grade level student can relate to the characters in this book because everyone has to make hard decisions without knowing the consequences. I also think some can relate to being neglected by busy parents. I would recommend this book to a classmate because it was sweet and heart wrenching at times, but over all a good book.

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