Escape with “My Life Next Door”

Check out this must-read boy next door romance: My Life Next Door by Huntley Fitzpatrick

Samantha remembers well the day that the Garrett family moved in next door to her mother’s perfectly maintained home. The large family with the messy yard full of toys, two loving parents, kids coming and going, and a new baby every three years is a constant irritation to Samantha’s own mother, who comments on them frequently and with great disdain. Samantha knows that the neighbors are forbidden, that her family doesn’t associated or approve of those kinds of people.

Samantha’s family consists of her mother, her slightly older sister, and her mother’s trust fund. Her father left before Samantha was born, and her mother has created a beautiful house, with the posh private school and exclusive country club filling out their family’s lifestyle. Her mother micro-manages her life, from her wardrobe to her school activities, making sure that her time is filled with worthy and productive events, and Samantha’s own best friend Nan is always trying harder to be more successful and accomplished.

To cope with all of that, Samantha has a secret habit of climbing out of her window and sitting on the roof and watching the Garrett family.  She has watched them for years, observed their interactions and the rhythm of their lives, wondered about them, even when she can barely tell them apart sometimes.

The summer after junior year, Sam’s sister has moved away for the summer in preparation for leaving for college, her mother is increasingly away from home as a state representative with a reelection campaign, and her mother’s campaign advisor seems to be interested in both romance and politics. Sam escapes up to the roof to get away, but she couldn’t be more surprised when someone climbs up the trellis to join her. Jase Garrett and his family are very different from what Sam has been imagining. As Sam gets to know the boy next door, the secrets pile up between the families,  until Sam will have to make a choice that will change everything.

I really loved this book, and I think I will remember the characters for a while, probably wondering how they are doing. I don’t often rush to an author’s website these days hoping that there is a sequel in the works (there is not, that I saw), but I didn’t want my time with these families to end. Coming of age stories are always relevant because we are all making choices every day that determine who we are and who we become. Somehow this book that I completely anticipated being a fluffy teen romance has left me mulling over the commitments that we each have to other human beings, the choices that people make, morally, personally, romantically, whether about work, or a job, or family, or a friend, a dream for the future.

Lissa Staley

Lissa Staley helps people use the library. She is a Book Evangelist, Health Information Librarian, Arts & Crafts Librarian, Trivia Emcee, Classics Made Modern book group leader, and frequent library customer, especially with her children. She reads a new book every few days, but recently loved Adorkable by Sarra Manning, Fortunately the Milk by Neil Gaiman and Tin Star by Cecil Castellucchi.