Friday, April 12, 2013

My Life Next Door, by Huntley Fitzpatrick

Out of the four books I chose for the Book Wind assignment, My Life Next Door was my favorite. Author Huntley Fitzpatrick manages to write a Young Adult Fiction story aimed at teen girls without sounding condescending or didactic. The book truly made you think while also being a lot of fun to read, living up to the high praise its received since its release.

The story centers on Samantha Reed, an all around "good girl" entering her senior year of high school in a fictional Connecticut town. Samantha is nice and seemingly perfect, but by getting her point of view we see that she is a very relatable character. Her mother is a state senator who believes everything should be perfect, down to the carpets she is constantly vacuuming  I was weary at first because the story starts with Samantha meeting Jase Garrett, the literal boy next door her mother doesn't approve of. I was afraid the story was going to be just teen romance, but fear not- there's a plot twist that caught me completely off guard that gives the story great depth. It's less about teen romance and more about family, and the tough decisions we're often faced with in life.

Beyond the interesting plot, what I loved most about the book were the characters. They were complex, well written, and most importantly to me, funny. The book tackles some serious themes but still manages to provide you with some comic relief in characters like George, Jase's younger brother. It also addresses problems teen readers face in their everyday lives: first love, the pressure to be perfect, loyalty to family, turbulent friendships, and having a friend who struggles with addiction. As Samantha is pushed to figure out what she believes in, it also forces readers to make those same tough decisions about what they would do in her shoes.
A fan made quote graphic
I would definitely recommend this book to future students. Because of the romance aspect and the fact that it is narrated from Samantha's point of view it might be a tough sell to young boys, but I think the themes it addresses would be worthwhile and of interest to both genders. This was a book that, once I finished, I immediately wanted to reread it because I missed the characters. Additionally, it was a fairly quick and easy read, so almost any student would be able to finish it fairly quickly. It may not seem like it has a lot of literary merit, and it will probably never be a classic novel, but it manages to be both entertaining and thought-provoking.


Zak Q said...

Funny you should mention it, because just the other day, I was thinking about books I've read in which the characters are so developed or likable that I actually miss them when I'm finished. Since you felt that for the characters in "My Life Next Door," that's high praise for Fitzpatrick's writing.

I agree on the "tough sell" to boys here. But I think this would just be one I might not bother with trying to get male students interested in. But it seems like exactly the kind of thing my sisters would have read in high school and really enjoyed. And my mom would have just loved the fact that they were reading at all.

Henry Buckner said...

Although this story is written from Samantha, a teenage girl's, perspective I believe that the issues it tackles are universal. Both teenage boys and girls struggle with "first love, the pressure to be perfect, loyalty to family, turbulent friendships, and having a friend who struggles with addiction" (Samantha). People are face with tough decisions everyday and I feel that from your review "The Life Next Door" isn't a gender bias book. This is just in my opinion of course. Overall, good job on the review.

Laura Coyotl said...

When it comes to romance novels, there are not many boys would jump out to read it. But, since this book includes other things that teenagers go through every day, it will definitely call their attention. This book will become relatable to both genders since it includes various themes that we go through during our middle school, high school years. I like books that have interesting characters because I like reading about them and seeing how they develop throughout the story, and I especially like funny characters which is definitely a plus. Nice review and good links.