Book Review: My Life Next Door

Title: My Life Next DoorImage

Author: Huntley Fitzpatrick

Genre: YA contemporary

Length: 394 pages (Harry Potter reference, anyone?)

Published by: Speak, an imprint of Penguin

Source: borrowed it from the local library


“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.


This would have got four stars simply from the lovely summer romance and amazing writing. It gets the extra half-star because of the depth that really surprised me towards the end of the book.

Let’s start with characters. I think there were too many. What with the Garretts and the main character’s friend Nan and various boyfriends and other people, it got a little bit confusing. But the Garretts are a fantastic family. They kind of reminded me of the Weasleys.

In the Garrett family there are eight kids – from memory, Alice, Joel, Jase (main character’s boyfriend), Harry, George, Patsy, Duff and…okay, for the life of me I cannot remember the last one, but she’s a teenage girl. Anyway, I really loved this rambunctious family, and Huntley Fitzpatrick went to a lot of effort making each of them have distinct personalities. Outside this family, we also have Nan, Samantha’s best friend (weird name, but okay) and Tim.

I really liked Tim. He was pretty rough around the edges, an awful person at the beginning of the book. He was constantly swearing, drinking, smoking and making sexist comments, but towards the end he mellowed a bit and developed into a really strong asset for our main character.

There were a lot of swoonworthy moments in this book. The romance between Samantha and Jase was really cute.


But there was also a lot of depth in the storyMy Life Next Door surprised me with the moral dilemma towards the end, and it’s not one of the ones where you know what the answer’s going to be. It’s even more powerful because I have no idea what I would have chosen in that situation. It’s not a case of black-and-white “this is right and this is wrong.” There are shades of right and wrong. But in the end, I think she did the right thing (no spoilers, though! You should read it).

Family is so often neglected in YA (for some reason), even though it’s often very important in a teenager’s life. I mean, at my age friends are becoming even more important, but we still depend on our families. That’s what I liked about My Life Next Door, how it focused on families, and different types of families. The Garretts are constantly abused by strangers who say things like “you shouldn’t have got pregnant again if you couldn’t afford it.” I’m paraphrasing, but that’s the gist of it, and it made me so mad! They’re a family and they love each other, and that really came through in this book.

All in all, I really loved it, and I’d like to read more of Huntley Fitzpatrick in the future.

Rating: 4.5/5 Wonderkitties




11 thoughts on “Book Review: My Life Next Door

  1. YES! (: I’m so glad you ended up enjoying this one and now we don’t have to fight [; hehe, kidding! …Or am I? ;p

    I really want to read Huntley’s next book. As I really did enjoy the writing in this one, which is something you reminded me about in this review. It really does have that high readabilty (??? like it’s super easy and enjoyable to read) factor.

    Lol I do agree about there being a whole lot of side characters, mainly Garrett’s family. I really only did remember the names of the cute ones or the ones who had a bigger role in the story. Still, Huntley gave them all a personality so even if I couldn’t remember their names, I could remember them as ‘the one that’s adorable’ or whatever. They were well rounded and developed. They also really contributed to the family vibe she was going for, and it’s great to see that realistic family side in YA. LOL definitely no missing parent syndrome in this one.

    I also like that My Life Next Door really did dig into some issues and made you think. It was fluffy at some points, but not overly so.

    Lovely review girl! <33

    • Yay! That’s always a good thing.

      It was definitely a quick read for me, which is surprising because it’s pretty long for a contemporary.

      Every character definitely had a distinct personality, something simple to identify them with. And I loved that Jase had all the animals in his room – that was cool! I hate missing parent syndrome because family is such a great avenue to explore within YA. More authors should take advantage of it like Huntley Fitzpatrick does!

      It was a great mix of fluffy and thoughtful. I did NOT know what she was going to choose at the end. I practically tore my hair out trying to decide the right thing to do, lol 😛

  2. Oh oh oh, I got this book a friend last week and I’ve been wanting it for years, literally! Your review gets me excited Emily! I love that it has depth and the romance is so damn cute, and with a family that big, I’m bound to get attached to someone, right? Lovely review, and I’m excited!

    • How exciting! The anticipation before reading a long-awaited book is so lovely. I’m sure you’ll love the family in this book – I definitely did, and I hope you like Harry. He’s one of the littler members of the family. You’ll know who I’m talking about when you read it. Happy reading!!

  3. I keep seeing this book around and am so glad you enjoyed it, Emily! Sometimes there’s nothing better than a well written YA contemporary. Shame about the overdose of characters but I think I’ll look out for it. Fluffy and thoughtful – sounds perfect!

    • It’s been out for a while but I’ve seen a few recent reviews and decided to check it out. Very glad I did! The “character overdose” (love that phrase!) gets easier after a while, because the author really does make each character distinct 🙂

  4. I LOVE BOOKS ABOUT FAMILIES. It makes my day, honestly, because family is super important and I love it when it’s not overlooked and instead plays a huge part. Gah. Insta-awesome in my opinion. I think I need to look into reading this, honestly! I kind of have it confused in my head with Lola And the Boy Next Door and….I think there’s another one? About being next door…ah, well. I’m totally seeing if my library has it. None of the pics showed up on the post, though…but that’s possibly just my internet being cranky.

    • You probably have it confused with On the Fence by Kasie West as well 🙂 I think they were both in your “similar covers” post a while back. But yes! Family! I love big families. Will Kostakis’s The First Third was one of my favourite Aussie reads last year. Parents have their own stories and I love when siblings are included in novels. There’s so much you can do with families 🙂

  5. I’m glad you liked this one, Emily! I’d definitely like to read about this family if they remind you of the Weasleys. 🙂 And of course, I love books where family plays a big role. The “having too many kids” problem is very prominent in our country and I’m glad it’s sort of addressed in this and is a good example of why it isn’t a problem. 🙂

    • I love the Weasleys! Well, Harry Potter. And I can remember people saying the same things about them – “have less kids if you don’t have enough money.” But, you know, family is important and people should mind their own business 😛

  6. Pingback: What Happened This Week: Stacking the Shelves, Divergent movie and querying | The Loony Teen Writer

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