Goodreads: My Life Next Door
Goodreads Summary: A gorgeous debut about family, friendship, first romance, and how to be true to one person you love without betraying another
“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, 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?
A dreamy summer read, full of characters who stay with you long after the story is over.
Review: I read this on a recommendation, and although I do not claim to be a judge of romance books (having read relatively few), this is a really sweet romance. Jase and Samantha hit it off very quickly—once they actually introduce themselves after having lived next door to each other for years—but their relationship progresses very naturally afterwards. It is clear why the two are attracted to each other. Sam is wonderful immersing herself into the chaos that is Jase’s family, and Jase is an aspiring football star who likes to fix things and take care of animals—to do things that take time because he believes it makes them more worthwhile. In short, Jase is rather swoon-worthy without being the type of boyfriend that could not possibly exist.
I found the other plot, the accident to which the summary alludes, to be more problematic. It does put forth a lot of questions about loyalty to family, yourself, and your morals, but I am slightly uncomfortable with the resolution to all the problems. [Minor spoiler] Somehow, despite the efforts of several characters to do the right thing, I was left with the sense that the right thing did not quite happen.
Also, this accident results in some standard relationship drama between Sam and Jase that is resolved fairly easily. Often books go over the top, making couples absurdly angry about rather minor things just to add some “suspense,” but this is one instance where I think a little more anger would have justified.
My Life Next Door is essentially a light romantic read with a few tougher themes thrown in to make it more meaningful. Sam is trying to find herself during her teenage years, the Garretts face prejudice from those who look down on large families, and Sam’s friends are dealing with the pressure of drugs and applying to college. None of this overrides the fun, however. The book is generally sweet and uplifting, and these issues give it a little grounding.
Content Note: Sex, drugs, alcohol, swearing
Published: June 14, 2012