One of my favourite boys in YA contemporary fiction is Étienne St. Clair from Anna and the French Kiss and Jase Garrett from My Life Next Door is now up there with him!
Seventeen-year-old Samantha Reed lives a quiet, stable life compared to her neighbours. The Garretts are loud and chaotic and everything Samantha’s senator mother tries to avoid, so Samantha knows her mother would not be happy that she has fallen in love with Jase. Jase’s parents and their seven other children – Joel, Alice, Andy (Andrea), Duff, Harry, George and Patsy – welcome Samantha into their home. She joins them for meals, helps Andy decide what to wear on her first date and babysits George and Patsy. But Samantha’s mother is completely unaware of her daughter’s secret life next door, too focused on her own political campaign – until tragedy strikes. Samantha must first convince herself to do what’s right.
My Life Next Door is everything I want from a YA contemporary novel: a close-knit American town setting; a realistic and believable romance; a supportive and loving family (especially toddler George!); intense friendships; and quite a bit of drama. I’m part of a small family and struggle to imagine what it must be like to be one of eight children, but I loved reading about the Garretts, and watching Samantha figure out how to navigate their world. Aside from the wonderful romance between Jase and Samantha – which develops slowly and naturally, and is a lot fun to read – friendship is also important to the story, particularly how the two teenagers deal with twins Tim and Nan, both struggling in their own ways.
My Life Next Door was the perfect summer romance story – until it took a more unexpected, serious turn. We get to see whether Samantha and Jase’s relationship can withstand the pressure as their lives come crashing down, affecting not only their own relationship, but the strong bonds between family and friends, too.
I adored My Life Next Door. It absolutely should not have taken me three years to pick it up. Hopefully it won’t take me another three to read the companion novel, The Boy Most Likely To.
Published: 14th June 2012
Publisher: Dial Books