Every once in a while, there is a book that just grabs your attention and surpasses all expectations. Recently, I had given up hope for a good, solid YA romance title with no excessive teen drama, real characters and a relationship I could invest in, and a story that just makes me smile. I am happy to say that I’ve found a keeper in My Life Next Door.
Samantha Reed spends her time watching the chaotic Garrett family next door. Her own life is rather lonely and solitary, with a mother who is almost never home and a sister away for the summer, but the Garretts’ house is a flurry of activity with kids constantly running around and squealing. The Garrett family has everything that hers doesn’t: a fatherly presence, a mother and father with a steady, loving relationship, and a place that can be called home, and Samantha only wishes she could be one of them. When Jase Garrett surprises her one evening and they start talking, the two begin a whirlwind romance that tugs at heartstrings and shows the beauty and magic of falling in love for the first time.
This book thoroughly charmed me. Blissfully absent of love triangles, teen angst, and unnecessary relationship drama, My Life Next Door casts a realistic light on teenage love. I completely fell for Jase. He is lighthearted, easy to be with and talk to, mature, patient, and an all-around nice guy who just wants to make the person he loves happy. Samantha was reserved and tended to keep to herself, but Jase slowly brings her out of her shell, and I loved watching her undergo this transformation. In any relationship, the person you are with should make you into a better person, helping you rid yourself of doubt and fear, and that is exactly what Jase and Samantha’s relationship epitomizes. They really brought out the best in each other, and watching their romance develop was a real treat. The Garrett family, in all their craziness, was another added bonus. With too many comical moments to count, they had me in stitches most of the time. George is ridiculously adorable, and I would love nothing more than to just pinch his cheeks and give him a bear hug (considering he is actually wearing underwear/pants).
For her debut work, I do not think Fitzpatrick could have done much better. She created an enchanting love story filled with practical and loveable characters and swoon worthy moments that will leave the reader feeling so many heartfelt emotions, it will be difficult to process them all. While the ‘incident’ at the end of the book could have been handled a little more efficiently, this book is still one of the best debuts to come out in 2012. I loved Jase, I loved Jase and Samantha’s relationship, and I loved this book. I cannot wait to see what Fitzpatrick will have for us next!