Publishing Info: June 14, 2012 by Penguin
Source: Book Trade
Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: June 18, 2015
"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.
I’m SO happy that I finally read MY LIFE NEXT DOOR! After promising to read it last summer and allowing other plans to come first, I knew I wanted to make the time to read it this year. When I heard about Penguin Teen’s “The Blog Most Likely To…” promo, I knew the time was absolutely perfect to start it and yes, the stars aligned!
MY LIFE NEXT DOOR was actually really different than what I thought it would be — not in a bad way, but I was expecting it to be a light and fluffy contemporary, leaning more towards the feel of ANNA AND THE FRENCH KISS or ON THE FENCE. Nothing really led me to believe this aside from the cover and blurb but it was a bit hard to shake when I first started reading! I’m really glad I didn’t let my preconceived notions get in the way because this was really a beautiful book. MY LIFE NEXT DOOR is less fluffy and more… I wouldn’t say serious, but I guess realistic. It showed positives and negatives in a more contemplative manner and it was so much more overall than just the romance. (I mean, ANNA and ON THE FENCE handle these things too but… you know what I mean. Just totally different feel.)
I really loved the differences in families in this book. Samantha’s mother is a senator, her family has always been well-off, and her mother is very much about maintaining appearances and status. Her mother is happy to finally have teenagers because as much as she loves her daughters, she’s never been a fan of children. Their neighbors the Garretts are pretty much the opposite in every respect. The family is big, the house is messy, the atmosphere is warm, and everyone is free to be themselves, appearances be damned. It was really interesting to see what Samantha and Jase learned from each other and what their families learned from each other as well. Each family felt so real and true to themselves — even Mrs. Reed with her need for order and tidiness — and I loved how I could witness Samantha and Jase really discovering new things about each other and at the same time, growing themselves.
The romance was also so adorable. I wasn’t sure how I felt about it at first because I was expecting the book to focus more on the development of the romance and the tension leading up to the two characters being together, but the focus was much different than that. MY LIFE NEXT DOOR reminded me what young love is like but it also gave me glimpses of true and unconditional love (which were not the same for me in my life but what I saw with Sam and Jase). It was so touching to see so many sides of their relationship develop and strengthen and it felt real and raw and true.
The friendships and family dynamics are pretty spectacular too, and not all of them turned out the way I though they would. I was so annoyed with Tim and ended up falling in love with him maybe even more than Jase?) and I really enjoyed watching Samantha’s various degrees of friendships with Jase’s siblings. Not everything was a happy friendship or ended as “best friends forever” but it all felt so real and touched on something that I went through in my life as well. The families felt so real and I really enjoyed that not everything had a Full House finish. Sometimes families are messy too and things don’t always wrap up neatly.
I guess you could say that I had an idea of how MY LIFE NEXT DOOR would go but it really took me by surprise and I’m so happy that it made me feel so many different things! I would have been happy to read this as a stand alone but I’m SO excited that it has a companion now and I can’t wait to read THE BOY MOST LIKELY TO!
“The View from Goodreads” is a featured section in my reviews that I decided to incorporate! I tend to update my Goodreads status a LOT when I read — reactions, feelings, notes — so I thought it would be fun to share the sort of “reading process”! All status updates are spoiler-free (no specific plot points will be revealed) but will contain reactions to certain pages and/or characters!
Samantha // Character Obsessions: The Garretts, first love, friendship, honor.
I really loved watching Samantha grow throughout this book. She really always stood by what she believed in and really that’s quite a powerful thing, especially when she has to stand up to her own mother.
Jase // Character Obsessions: Family, hard work, money, trust.
Jase was definitely sweet and I can see why everyone fell I love with him! His relationship with Samantha reminded me a lot of my relationship with my husband in ways so naturally I found him quite endearing! He was a good boy so not totally my book boyfriend type but just so darn sweet that how can you not love him?
Kept Me Hooked On: Summer Reads. I don’t usually read specific books in a specific season (except for Halloween for some reason) but this was just such a great summer read for summertime! I’m so glad I read it “in season”!
Left Me Wanting More: Tim! Everyone loves Jase but I grew to love Tim. I think because he had a darker side and Jase was maybe a bit TOO good for me… But that makes me even more excited to read THE BOY MOST LIKELY TO!
This book was lovely and I couldn’t put it down towards the end! A very solid, realistic contemporary romance.
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(Click the cover to see my review!)