My rating in stars: 3,5 stars
My rating in words: I liked it
What it’s about:
“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 (Spoiler-free):
“Who are these people, and why do they think their own opinions are the only right ones?”
My Life Next Door is a nice, quick and summery contemporary read. At first sight it may look to be just a simple, easy romance story, it turns out to be so much more than that. Though of course, there is the romance, which is amazing and incredibly realistic. I loved the story of Samantha and Jase and I enjoyed seeing their love story play out. But the story is so much more than that. It also tackles some bigger issues like big families and prejudice, addiction, the struggle for perfection and control issues.
First things first, other than the romance, I fell in love with the entire Garrett family. I felt like every single member of the family really came alive in my head. They all felt super realistic, even if the cute and adorable four-year old may have been a tad too mature for his age to be realistic. I didn’t mind because his interactions were just the cutest and funniest. I also loved how this book highlighted all the aspects of a big family, not just the good ones.
Other than the Garretts, every other secondary character really stood out, though not always in a positive way. But I was super intrigued with Sam’s cold, control-freak politician mother and her slick, manipulative boyfriend Clay. Even the absent sister and the perfectionist best friend Nan will stick in my mind for a long time still. However, none more than my favorite character in the whole book: Tim. Ah, Tim. He’s an addict and pretty much has screwed up everything in his life so far, but I can’t help but root for him. I loved his humor, I loved his relationship with both Jase and Samantha and I loved his character development. Imagine my happiness when I found out there is another book focusing on Tim. I’m so getting that soon!
Unfortunately, pretty much the only character in the book I could not form any connection with was our main character Samantha. I liked her ok, but she was just such a blank character. She only seemed to exist in her relationships with others. Girlfriend to the lovely Jase Garret, daughter of a control-freak mother, friend to a perfectionist and an addict. Take all those people away and I have no idea who Samantha is. I prefer my main protagonists to stand out just a bit more in the personality department and Samantha’s lack of any real personality kind of bugged me throughout the book.
But overall, I highly enjoyed this book. I read it in one sitting so that’s saying something! Definitely recommend this one if you’re looking for a nice, summery contemporary that is cute and fluffy, but still tackles some big issues at the same time.
“Maybe if I can just sleep for a hundred years, I’ll wake up in a better story.”
“Is Jase already gonna marry you?”
I start coughing again. “Uh, No. No, George. I’m only seventeen.” As if that’s the only reason we’re not engaged.
“I’m this many.” George holds up four, slightly grubby fingers. “But Jase is seventeen and a half. You could. Then you could live in here with him. And have a big family.”
Jase strides back into the room, of course, midway through this proposition. “George. Beat it. Discovery Channel is on.”
George backs out of the room but not before saying, “His bed’s really comfortable. And he never pees in it.”
“No words for a long time. Which is fine, because even the most important ones– I love you. I’m sorry. Forgive me? I’m here– are only stand-ins for what you can say better without talking at all.”
“Feel sorry for anyone who thinks what they think is right should be some universal law”