Thursday, October 3, 2013

5 stars: My Life Next Door by Huntley Fitzpatrick

"'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."

Published June 14th 2012 by Dial Books For Young Readers. 

I'm a little speechless. Thank you, Sarah, for recommending this book to me! I just want to put this book into the hands of every teen and all fans of YA. It's incredibly well-written, and after finishing it (which didn't take long since I couldn't put it down), I immediately checked to see what else this author has written. I got a pleasant surprise! YOU GUYS, I don't like books that come in a series, but I'm thrilled that there will be another book that takes place in this beautiful world that Fitzpatrick created, with these amazingly vibrant and lovable characters.

There are many, many characters in this book... hell, Jase alone has seven siblings and all play a part in this book. The thing is, it's very easy to differentiate between all the characters, and you're never left scratching your head thinking "that name is familiar, who is that again?" Every character has a strong and individual personality. There's George, a precocious 4 year old who is afraid of everything he hears about (black holes, oxygen bubbles in syringes, etc), and Andy, a very girly 14 year old who makes every statement she says seem like a question because of her upwards inflections, and Patsy, a toddler who belts out the words "pooooooooooop" and "boob!" I could go on and on. I fell in love with almost every character--except for two who you are meant to dislike, and it works. The character development is phenomenal and other characters besides the main one have their own journeys that make them grow as people.

One reason why I want every teen to read this is because of some of those journeys. This book covers many "controversial" subjects, like drug use, alcoholism, premarital sex (and no, it's not shown as a bad thing, yay!), etc. We get a good look at these battles, like quitting, or deciding whether to have sex or not and the importance of using condoms and so on. In this story, we see characters make bad choices, and we see consequences, but we also see lessons learned and them moving on from their mistakes. Something I really liked was that nothing was shown as being too easy. Like one character who has to give up some of his addictions; he has to go to 90 AA meetings in 90 days, and it's not like he is cured or anything. He still misses the bad stuff. That seems realistic.

Another great thing about this book that makes it so appropriate for teens is that we get a glimpse into which yard is actually greener. Lots of characters envied others, but it turned out that those people had their own battles too, and that no one was better off than any other person. People looked down upon Jase's family, because his parents had eight children. "There's such a thing as birth control." "The reason why you don't have money is because you have so many kids." People saw them as trash. Well, they actually were happy people, because they were a very tight-knit family with tons of love to go around. This book teaches us not to make judgments about others--good or bad ones.

My Life Next Door had me laughing out loud and crying. I kept exclaiming "I love this book!" while reading it. I just wish I could give it 10 stars!

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