I'm almost done with my summer classes woohoo! This is a very light read, and perfect for summer I thought. By the time I finish the book I may be done with classes but for now, I still have a week left. Who knows maybe I'll finish before? This is My Life Next Door by Huntley Fitzpatrick. The synopsis is provided by Goodreads:
"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, messy, affectionate. And every day from her rooftop perch, Samantha Reed wishes she was one of them . . . until one summer evening, Jase Garrett climbs up next to her and changes everything.
As the two fall fiercely for each other, stumbling through the awkwardness and awesomeness of first love, Jase's family embraces Samantha - even as she keeps him a secret from her own. Then something unthinkable happens, and the bottom drops out of Samantha's world. She's suddenly faced with an impossible decision. Which perfect family will save her? Or is it time she saved herself?
I can't remember where I first learned about this book. Huh. That's weird.
(unsafe for those who haven't read this book yet, will contain some spoilers)
I believe I had more problems with this than I thought I was going to. I mean, it is a nice summery read but the cons outweighed the pros. So let's begin.
I felt all the main characters were archetypes of their kind: the jock, the druggie, the quiet main girl, the best friend who has it rough-- the only thing I felt that stood out about this book was that the Garrett family was huge. Otherwise what made this story stand out among all the other YA chick lit you see on the bookshelves? Not much.
One of my main issues with this book was that it was too colloquial. The grammar bugged the hell out of me, beginning multiple sentences with conjunctions where a simple punctuation mark like a comma would have easily fixed the problem. The reason it bothers me so much was that it ruined the flow of the story, I needed to reread simple sentences and that just made me feel stupid since this book isn't difficult to read at all.
Another problem that probably was what made me dislike the story from the beginning was that I absolutely hated the main character Samantha. Samantha and her mom. Samantha and her mom and Clay. I wanted to shut the book and never open it again I hated how blind the mom was and how weak Sam was. I could rant for twenty minues about how much I hate Sam and her mom, but I have better things to do. Though I don't know why I'm surprised, I shouldn't have expected much from a rich girl who's got it easy-- in literature they're all the same and if you disagree, I beg you to give me an example where you don't see it in a chick lit.
And while I did like Jase's character, he was a little too perfect. The "extremely gorgeous," (that's always the number one thing with protagonist guys in YA lit because being just plain normal looking is forbidden!), a football player~ jocks will always choose the unconfident girl, amazing with kids, defensive over his girl when the girl doesn't defend him, shall I continue? Oh and my favorite, she watched him as he had watched her and being neighbors for ten years, naturally none of them ever crossed paths. I mean, c'mon, how could they be neighbors in a small town for ten years and hardly know who was who?? And he and Sam argued once if I'm correct-- right before she broke up with him, and it wasn't even an argument! It was Sam trying to console Jase and he asking for space, so she left. He never did wrong in this story and I say that's a big no-no. No person is perfect in real life, so why the hell am I reading about people who are?
If you know what a deus ex machina is, then you know how much I hate them from the beginning and how I hated it in this book. There wasn't really a conflict at all in this book. Perhaps maybe if the mom was more adamant and in opposition against Jase I would have understood but the only confrontation Sam and her mom have doesn't really impress since the mom sorts of drops it afterward. The conflict is about where the climax should have taken place-- about 100 pages from the end. And that doesn't even make sense since conflict isn't a moment in a plot line, it's what pushes the characters along and so most of the book is just what happened to her. And believe me, you can have conflict in romance-- perfect example: Pride & Prejudice. I'll just leave that there.
One thing I don't like when reading is the author flat out telling me how to feel. Or flat out what the character is feeling. If I'm reading a scene, based off of what happens I can usually deduce how a character may be feeling (if the author has successfully characterized them well). That is to say I don't mind an author letting me in a character's head-- but not in every scene. I argue I only want to know if the scene is important, suspenseful, or a step in developing the character. Otherwise it seems unimportant and useless.
I don't want to rant this entire book so I'll say some things I liked about the book, one being the Garretts. I don't know if it's purely the fact that there are so many of them and they were characterized better than Sam, but whenever we were over at their house, I felt I enjoyed the story more. Though I was a little surprised a lot of this book wasn't spent developing with the dynamics of the Garrett family and intertwining too much of her life "not next door." For example, a lot about Nan and Tim and her job at the B&N and her swimming early at some pool. Now don't get me wrong I liked that this was part of her life and not solely about Jace-- but more time could have been spent not talking about stuff that doesn't pertain to Sam's personal life and her relationship with Jase. Woops, turns out I complained after all.
Something else I liked about this story was the development of Tim. It turned out he was the one to be the better friend than Nan-- who has been best friends with Sam for TWELVE years. The reason Nan broke it off with Sam was because she caught her cheating. I mean calm down! Argue about the morality of it, but if you've been through so much together (which I can't imagine how you cannot over a twelve year friendship), it shouldn't call quits to whatever you have. I guess I'm just not a fan of girl choosing romance over friendship-- especially a friendship that has been in your life for more than half your lifetime vs. a possibly summer fling romance. And if Sam can let go of that friendship so easily-- what does that say about her character, I mean if she really cared?
Not. Very. Much!
That is to say I'm probably just very critical after reading other novels for school that aren't geared toward teens and based more off of reality. Or maybe I just shouldn't be reading these types of books because I may just rank them all bad. Though I did enjoy Anna and the French Kiss. It was probably because it was set in another country and the conflict was actually realistic.
In honesty I probably shouldn't be reading chick lit in the first place-- but I'm such a sucker for cheesy romances. Ironic since I can never seem to find one I like... Oh well! Back to my fantasy/sci-fi/mystery/thriller/adult genres it is!
I give this book 2/5 stars. I didn't like this book, grammar or story/character/plot wise, however there were parts I did find redeemable about this book. Ergo, not 1 star material.
"The meeting of two personalities is like the contact of two chemical substances: if there is any reaction, both are transformed."
Next To Read:
1984 by George Orwell
Until Next Time,