This RITA® Reader Challenge 2013 review was written by AnimeGirl. This story was nominated for the RITA® in the Best First Book category. We've posted an earlier RITA® review for this book as well.
The Garretts are everything the Reeds are not. Loud, numerous, messy, affectionate.
And every day from her balcony perch, seventeen-year-old Samantha Reed wishes she was one of them . . . until one summer evening, Jase Garrett climbs her terrace and changes everything. As the two fall fiercely in love, Jase's family makes Samantha one of their own.
Then in an instant, the bottom drops out of her world and she is suddenly faced with an impossible decision.
Which perfect family will save her? Or is it time she saved herself?
And here is AnimeGirl's review:
In general, I’m a person who deeply mistrust HYPE.
9 out of 10 times I just don’t get it and often I don’t even think the hyped-about book was all that good.
But I’m happy to say that My Life Next Door is that one book where the hype is totally granted. I loved the book from start to finish; I couldn’t put it down even though I had a ton of work to do. I just had to keep reading and I’m going to break down why in 4 parts.
Part 1 – Jase
Now, see, Jase Garrett is that rare brand of YA hero that a) acts his age, b) is totally decent and c) is REALLY swoon worthy. I don’t think I had fallen this hard for a book guy since Wes (from Sarah Dessen’s The Truth About Forever), but Jase is that awesome. He loves his family, totally pulls his weight with them and is really trying to make something of himself.
He’s genuinely kind, and that’s not something to take for granted. Plus, he’s something more than the Designated Love Interest. Take him out of the picture and there is no story.
Part 2 – Sam
Samantha Reed is also a rare breed of YA heroine: she’s smart, complex and DOES NOT WHINE. In some ways, Sam got an easy life since her mom has money and she’s smart enough that school isn’t truly hard for her or anything, but under all that she got a tough break: her Senator mom is way too demanding, her sister often absent and she’s lonely, and she can see all too clear that her mom’s new boyfriend is a douche but no one else seems to care. Yet, Sam does her own thing, rebels without being self-destructive (!!!) and even though she isn’t perfect, she does the right thing in the end.
Part 3 – The Garrets
I LOVE every single one of them! Hot Alice and Studly Joel, young Andy suffering through her first crush and Boob obsessed Patsy! They were all so awesome but my favorite is George. Everyone loves George.
Plus they totally take in Sam (or Sailor Super Girl as the younger kids call her). There is so much love in that family, things are rarely ever in the same neighborhood as Perfect for them, but the Garretts keep on loving one another.
Part 4 – Tim
Oh, Tim, he was a bit of a wreck but comes through in the end. I loved what a good friend he was and how he keeps calling Alice “Hot” like that’s her name. He’s damaged but sweet. Plus, he’s not afraid to tell it like it is.
Other than that, well, there is an actual story here. The narrative goes somewhere and I enjoyed both the journey and the destination. Definitely one of the best contemporary books I have read all year.
All in all, I give it an A.