My Life Next Door by Huntley Fitzpatrick absolutely wrapped around my heart and turned me into a snowcone of happiness and sprinkles. It successfully kidnapped my attention and held it! And I am so impressed right now, because usually I’m a contemporary snob, but My Life Next Door ticked all the boxes of awesome.
It had a checklist of my favourite things in YA Contemporaries!!
- Huge emphasis on large family (which you don’t see much in books!)
- A slow burn romance that started off as a friendship.
- All the secondary characters had personalities and lives, and no one felt like a cardboard cutout.
- IT HAD FUNNY MOMENTS.
- Plenty of food.
What I was most impressed about is how the book did big families RIGHT. Being part of a large family is like its own culture, truly. And yet this book got all the details right. Even to the point of going to the shop and having comments on “why do you have so many kids” and the prejudice towards big families. The Garrett’s have 8 kids. It perfectly captures the calamity of babies ditching clothes, toys everywhere, the sibling fights and love, and the chaos.
The story is about Samantha, who lives (OBVIOUSLY!!) next door to the Garrett’s. She’s spent most of her childhood “spying” on them. Her life is totally pristine, but miserable. They seem really happy, but such a mess. I loved the contrast! Sam wasn’t my favourite character though, because she seemed a bit bland. Calm, quiet, rich, capable…blah, blah. Even after the book I still don’t know much about Sam herself.
Jase Garrett was the 8th wonder of the universe. He fixed things. He took care of the babies. He was sweet and yet tough and loved cars and pulled off the “bad boy” leather jackets while simultaneously cuddling little siblings and putting them to bed. He was so sweet to Sam! I shipped it! I loved their banter and yet their sensibleness when it came to relationships.
“It is as if everything else in the world stops as we lie here in the summer night.”
The plot took me on a whirlwind of emotions! The writing was quite detailed, so I had to go slow to get all the details…but it made me feel really inside the story. I also appreciated that there weren’t any wild drunk parties in this book. They seem the contemporary “norm” and I almost always zone out — but My Life Next Door focused on studying, and work, and friendship. It also has a huge focus on politics, which wasn’t for me, but it didn’t overtake the story. And that finale?! Ohhh, wow. I flipped pages frantically and WAILED. It presents a massive moral dilemma and it was gut-wrenching.
Basically this is an astoundingly adorable and heart-warming contemporary. You need it in your life, okay? I’m entirely impressed that it delved into what it was like to have a big family and how the characters were responsible as well as fun and entertaining. I laughed, I squawked, I sniffled. It moved me.