Publisher: Electric Monkey
Released: January 7th 2015
My Rating: 4 stars out of 5
Find it on Goodreads
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. (from Goodreads)
Sam was our main character in this book, and oh man. Did I feel sorry for this girl. Her mother. She was awful. I don’t even understand how Sam put up with it, or was as forgiving as she was. And when the mum brought home Clay, or Creepy McCreeperson as I liked to call him because he was SO creepy, right from the start, I knew things would get even worse. Sam herself was actually (surprisingly, considering how she grew up) quite funny and never found it hard to come up with some witty sarcastic comments. She often watched her next door neighbours, The Garretts, from her window, wondering what it’d be like to grow up with lots of siblings and live in a normal family. And then she suddenly found herself talking to Jase Garrett - and then meeting his family - and then babysitting his siblings - and everything was changing for her. She was starting to see things outside the confines her mother had kept her in. It was nice to see her changing little by little - though she (of course, as a human being) still was unsure of herself and made a lot of mistakes. The events that occurred towards the end - I just. I really think it was wrong of Sam to have kept that secret. I sort of get why she did it, but if I were an involved party, I would have been angry that she lied about it.
Jase was seriously so sweet and adorable and kind. He knew Sam was a bit messed up and her family life wasn’t great, and he always made an effort to speak to her and hang out and try to make her forget about it all. And he was so great with all of his (SEVEN) siblings! I loved the relationship the Garrett family had, and it was so nice to see a family portrayed that way. I loved seeing Sam with the Garretts, especially the Garrett parents because it was such a contrast to her own home life. The romance was very cute too and built up really nicely. From the start you just knew that Jase and Sam would be great together and it was so great seeing them interact and start to realise that for themselves.
Nan and Tim - well I saw that coming, really. I knew what Nan was up to and Tim? I had mixed feelings. It’ll be interesting to read The Boy Most Likely To (the companion novel to My Life Next Door) where Tim is a main character, because I am interested to find out what happens to him. Hope it will be published in the UK! Though back to this book, I’m just more surprised that the parents of these two had no idea what was going on with their children. I’d say they were almost as bad as Sam’s mum but that’s a lie because Sam’s mum was the worst.
Plot-wise, this book was a lot funnier than I expected (there was a lot of awkward humour that I found hilarious), and while it was mostly slow paced, it was really enjoyable and gave us a lot of time to get to know the characters. The events at the end were surprising and seemed to come out of nowhere at first, but I got used to the change in tone and ended up really enjoying the book as a whole.
Overall, this was a really engaging, very sweet contemp with some more serious parts as well. Recommended!