September 24, 2015

Book Review: My Life Next Door by Huntley Fitzpatrick

My Life Next DoorMy Life Next Door by Huntley Fitzpatrick
Rating: /5

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It’s been more than a week since I finished this book yet I haven’t got any clue what I should put on my review. It’s always hard to write a review days after you read the book. I’ve been there before. Every time it happened, I’d just reread the book so I could repeat the feelings I had from reading it. Thus I could write an accurate review about it. But when the book is the one you thought you’d love but ended up disappointing? Imagine the frustration I felt when I had to sit down in front of my screen to type something about it.
This is what happened between me and My Life Next Door. Rereading it was definitely not an option since I remembered just how close I was to throw this book into the fire at some points while reading… So here I am, counting solely on my memory to jot down the reasons I abandoned this book un-reviewed for days (and also for the non-existent need to reread it).

I’ll just start from the beginning (means: here's the synopsis of the book).
My Life Next Door started with a scene of Samantha Reed along with her sister and their mom watching a new family moved in to the house next door. Sam’s mother already had a ‘bad feeling’ about the family who turned out exactly like she imagined. Very unlike hers, the Garrets were picture perfect of big, boisterous, messy family Sam’s mother loathed so much. Having a bad experience with someone from that typical family, her mother totally forbids both Sam and her sister to build any relationship with them. In which, of course, brought Sam to a much deeper level of curiosity that was leading to daily observations she’d been doing to them through her window for years. Sam watched the family like drama series she enjoyed every day. Over years, she learned which kids had which names; she even learned a glimpse of their habits from their activities at home. A family of two parents with eight kids was apparently something fascinating as Sam learned that even though the house was definitely a total mess every day, it seemed much more comfortable to live in it than in her own big house. It seemed much warmer. Much more alive.
When one day someone from the Garrets decided to cross the invisible bridge between both houses and climbed up to Sam’s make-shift observatory, she welcomed him with a mixed-feeling: anxious, in-awe, scared, and most certainly… more curiosity. The summer that was originally supposed to be boring and lonely became so much more when Sam literally ‘built’ a new life next door. Jase Garrets introduced her to the life that had been just something she was only able to see from afar. For the first time, Sam could find real companies that sincerely enjoyed her present than her own family.
Though it’s hard and felt so wrong in so many levels, Sam tried hard to put the two worlds separated. But when something happened between both families, Sam had to make a tough decision whether to crawl back to her safe zone or to stand still on the other side of the road. What should she choose, though, when the family she was born into was the one that could put a black cover over the truth and the family everyone resented was the one that made her feels truly belong?

First of all, I have to say that My Life Next Door was a little too disappointing for me. Maybe I had to put a full blame on myself since I was the one who set a really high expectation for this one, what with a very cutesy cover that seems so inviting and implying a delectable romance story inside. And more, so many people put a deep liking to this book making me even more excited. Turned out, you can’t expect too much from something without having a high risk of disappointed coming from it.

I pretty enjoyed the first half of the book. My Life Next Door really had potential and I could see it in the beginning. A story between two people from very different families colliding under the name of love was always a beautiful romance to enjoy. And the fact that this is a YA made me curious how the teenage-love in this book would be played out. Jase’s character was adorable from the start. It’s impossible to not love him. He’s just too forgiving, too kind, too much perfectness in one body, both inside out. While Sam was this girl with a perfect family but always felt like missing something in her life. The appearance of Jase painted a new color in Sam’s dull life. I loved it so much whenever they’re together. Jase was so mature and he brought a maturity out of Sam too. It’s not that Sam was a childish or difficult girl. Sam was simply plain in the beginning. Being with Jase, Sam became so much better as she showed that she’s the kind of rich girl with a golden heart. I loved to see how she enjoyed being with Jase’s unique family. Really, I did think that they’re just perfect for each other. But, there’s a lacking I noticed in their romance. While it might be unfair to call their romance as insta-love, it just felt like that to me. Sam might be ‘watching’ him for years and knew one or two things about him besides his amazing body but wasn’t it takes a real interaction between two people before you could really call it a romance? That’s what I thought, and Sam and Jase didn’t have that until they were literally staring at each other with stars in their eyes just ten chapters after they first met (the book was fifty-chapters long, anyway, so imagine how fast things had been going between them).

I was indifferent to Sam’s character at first, but she became interesting the more time she spent with Jase, seeing how funny Sam could be around the Garrets kids and how she sincerely loved their family. Then twist after twist started to come barreling in to her way and … there come out her truest personality. Samantha Reed, the girl who used to be swayed in a perfectly easy life where her only issues were her perfectionist mom and some girly problems with school, best friend, and boys. So when she was slammed with a real twist of real life, she had no idea what to do. She frustrated me a bit there, but I put up with her because that’s exactly how a girl like her would react in that kind of circumstance. I actually liked that Sam was not entirely a flawless girl but a girl who was good and bad, both. Meanwhile, Jase remained lovely till the end. He was the too-good-to-be-true who adopted some prince charming-like attitudes. Of course, I loved him because who doesn’t, really?

I just loved the dynamic of Jase’s family so much. The kids, especially George and Patsy made me want to kidnap them and pour them with my sincerest love every single day. The people in Jase’s world were all unique and charming in their own way while the people in Sam’s world were the total opposites. Her back-stabbing ‘best-friend’ and her amazing Senator mom with her politic-enthusiast boyfriend were enough characters to make me want to throw the book all the way to the moon and back, repeatedly. Clay Tucker (Senator Reed’s *cue vomit* boyfriend) was the biggest FLAW in this potentially great read. I don’t understand why the author felt the need to include so much of their moments together. And since the book was told in Sam’s perspective, I guess my question should be: why Sam could even bear watching them together for that long? AND don’t even get me started with Nan, Sam’s best-friend slash the back-stabber. Nan’s personality didn’t make sense at all. And the reason of their fight was ridiculous. Apparently she’s not the best friend Sam thought she had all along; apparently she’s been holding grudge toward Sam for no particular reasons other than her own jealousy about what Sam had that she had not and just waiting for the right moment to throw it out to Sam’s face. What a sweet friend you kid!
Meanwhile, Tim, Nan’s twin-brother who I’d been ignored and even a bit loathed at the beginning turned out to be someone who saved the day. Or maybe not exactly like that, but he did become someone who you’d totally love in the end. I liked it whenever a side-character played a role that makes them more. Unfortunately that Sam’s sister didn’t get a chance to play one as well.

Even though there were just so many things that make me dislike this book, and though the second half of the book did feel like the story was going nowhere, I liked the essential lesson being implied in this book.
That not everyone you do wrong in life expects you to apologize a hundred times and demand you to pay for their losses no matter what it takes. Sometimes all they want is just for you to take a step back and see how they fix every ruined thing on their own. So you could realize just how far deep your action affected their life. So you would think twice before you do the same mistake again to any other people in the future.

The author didn’t actually provide a conclusive ending. So many issues had not resolved at last and though many people would think differently about it, the ending did bother me. I am a firm believer of John Lennon’s saying: “Everything will be okay in the end. If it’s not okay, it’s not the end”. And it’s definitely not the end of My Life Next Door for me because it’s not okay. I won’t tell you what’s not okay, though.

It upset me that I didn’t really enjoy this book and that there’s no sequel whatsoever for Jase and Samantha. I’d wanted to read this for so long but now that I have, I couldn’t find what I’d been looking for eventually… *sigh*
Well, guess it’s time to move on then.

Love, read, and review,
Cynthia D.


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