REVIEW: My Life Next Door by Huntley Fitzpatrick

My Life Next Door by Huntley Fitzpatrick

Rating: ★ ★ ★

Synopsis: 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?

Genre: YA Contemporary Romance

Review: I’ve been on a serious YA contemporary romance kick this summer, and this is no exception. This cover has been catching my eye on shelves since I worked at a Books-A-Million in 2015, so I finally decided to see what was inside.

I realized shamefully far into this book that this is a loose retelling of Romeo and Juliet (shameful because I did a production of that show this summer). However, there is an interesting twist: the girl is not Juliet. Our main character, Samantha, actually takes on the Romeo role, where her romantic interest, Jase, takes on the typically female role. As far as it goes as a retelling, there are actually some brilliant moments and tiny references to the play that would go unobserved by an uninformed reader (it was the reference to the lark scene that jolted me into the realization that this was basically R&J). Once I realized this, my head was spinning as I wondered how different plot points translated from play to book. Someone’s has die, who is it going to be? Will it divert from Shakespeare and have a happy ending? Well played, Huntley Fitzpatrick.

I have to admit that I was not sold on this book except for possibly at a couple specific points. The beginning seemed to set the book up poorly, rushing into Samantha’s life and the romantic plot rather than letting the character get to know Samantha’s world and then introducing the romance. From the very start, Jase seemed to be too good to be true, and it remained that way throughout the whole book. He is very resilient, but impossibly so. It seems that he has no weaknesses or flaws, so I did not find him to be a realistic or relatable character, but rather more of a dream expanded on paper.

I think that the biggest weakness of this book is that it was highly predictable. I was very rarely caught off guard or pleasantly surprised by a plot point, which I found to be disappointing. The world was not well built and rather felt like it was developed with blinders on, only focusing on what was straight ahead. The writing itself was sturdy enough, but nothing that I’ll be going back to reread or pull quotes from.

In the end, I found myself wondering why the book was so long. It could have easily been truncated, because there was not much besides the romantic plot moving it along, and when you have two characters who are so obviously going to get together and do so very early on, what else is there? The question in this book is not how and when will they get together, but will the relationship survive, a question which I answered for myself before the ball truly got rolling. It is a cute summer read if you’re looking for something quick and light, but nothing that I would recommend racing to the bookstore to own. In relation to the rest of the YA contemporary romance I’ve read, it can and has been done far better.

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