My Life Next Door
Super-sweet “older” YA book (main characters are almost adults, dealing with adult issues) that had that awesome family-feel. Er… well, maybe not her own family, but definitely the family next DOOR to her. Her journey introduces her to a new freedom and maturity that her sheltered and rigid, wealthier lifestyle didn’t permit her to discover.
The Garretts were my bedtime story, long before I ever thought I’d be part of the story myself.
And it came highly recommended by some of my best book buddies (due to the amazing writing style, and story flow, and level of attachment that the readers were feeling in regards to the characters), I one-clicked it so hard!
Amy: Did any of you ever read My Life Next Door? Sooo sweet and sooo emotional and it was definitely a five-star read for me. It was so much more than a coming-of-age romance. Anyways, there’s going to be a companion novel in August, The Boy Most Likely To. Yay!! I have to say one more thing about My Life Next Door…it’s one of those books for me where I loved, loved, loved it, and after not thinking about it for a while and then being reminded of it again now it is all I can think about. It’s just so…so…right. *snort* I have a way with words, eh?
Cheryl: Amy, the book My Life Next Door, do I need to wait for the companion book before reading this one?
Amy: Cheryl, you don’t need to wait for and read the companion book to My Life Next Door as it is a standalone, but the companion book will focus on Jase’s sister and a guy friend of Samantha (the H and h). It *is* about teenagers, but it doesn’t have a “high school” feel to it. There are no jealousy issues and no conniving guys and girls trying to come between them. The H and h are mature but not overly so, more like they are just right maturity wise based on their family dynamics. I loved Jase’s big, loud, chaotic family and how they just sucked Samantha right in with them. It’s not really angsty (except for one part, and that’s more like emotional with just a tiny bit of angst thrown in). Seriously Cheryl…READ IT!
Jennifer: I read My Life Next Door when you talked about how good it was on a past post…I loved it! Great recommendation.
Amy: No over-the-top or unbelievable drama, just a couple of teens who are trying to make a go of things despite the family circumstances (his family is big and crazy awesome!). I fell in love with them and was giddy for them and hurt for them and… *sigh* I just loved it.
Jean: You guys, I am LOVING the Garretts (My Life Next Door)….this book…..sigh, I LOVE IT!!!! The writing…AMAZING!!!
Maryse: Jean and Amy!!! WOW. Yes… I’m adding that book to today’s list AND I’m one-clicking it. !!! Thank you guys!!!
Jean: Yes Maryse, My Life Next Door is definitely for you!!
Cristina: Amy, I just finished “My Life Next Door” and I loved it! I absolutely adored the Garretts!! I want to be a part of their family too! George was my favorite!! I was laughing so hard during the “bacon conversation” that I had tears running down my face. I was trying to read it aloud to my daughter and husband, but I just couldn’t get it out! It was one of those belly hurting laughs! It was great!
I LOVED how she discovered a whole new life, so different from her own. After years of living next door to the huge and boisterously happy “Garrett” family and being so curious about them, she finally meets them.
Mrs. Garrett chats away to me as though we’ve always known each other. It’s so weird sitting there in the kitchen with this woman I’ve seen from a distance for ten years. Like finding yourself in an elevator with a celebrity. I repress the urge to say “I’m a huge fan.”
Her whole life changes in the span of one year as they welcome her into their home, and she becomes a part of their family too.
And you guys are so right, about the low-angst level (just a lot of living and laughing), and yet still enough oomph once the serious drama kicks in (something happens, but my lips are sealed!!) to keep me reading and wondering how it was all going to turn out.
So what’s it about?
Samantha and her older sister have been raised by their single mother (a wealthy and well-respected politician) in a somewhat rigid household. While their mom is loving in her own way, she’s got that “perfect public appearance” down to a science, and in fact, her own personal life continues to reflect her version of a “proper” life. And that version does NOT include that hot-mess of a family next door.
It was clear from the start that we were not to play with the Garretts. After bringing over the obligatory “welcome to the neighborhood” lasagna, my mother did her best to be very unwelcoming.
But Samantha has always been intrigued by that very family. Eight kids (ranging from adults to babies) all living together with their still-happily-married parents. Oh sure, they may not be wealthy financially (raising such a large family means sometimes they miss out on things), but they are rich when it comes to love and togetherness. They all pull together to make it work, taking care of the children, helping their father at his hardware store. They might appear to be a mess (outwardly a bit chaotic at all times LOL!!!), but trust me… they have it together, and I LOVED “being” in their home, and amongst that delightful disorder.
I’d climb out after bedtime, look through the lit windows, and see Mrs. Garrett doing the dishes, one of the younger kids sitting on the counter next to her. Or Mr. Garrett wrestling with the older boys in the living room. Or the lights going on where the baby must sleep, the figure of Mr. or Mrs. Garrett pacing back and forth, rubbing a tiny back. It was like watching a silent movie, one so different from the life I lived.
And one day, in a moment of emergency, Samantha is asked if she can babysit the children, and once she truly meets them all, she secretly becomes a part of them. This new family of hers (and potential new love interest) is her secret alone…
I feel the breath whoosh out of my lungs and can’t seem to take the next breath. “Of you? No. No. Never. I just…” I bite my lip.
His eyes assess my face. “I’m not trying to put you on the spot. Just figuring out what’s what. You’re… I don’t know… the ‘State Senator’s Daughter.’ I’m… well…‘ one of those Garretts’—
…and she protects it from her mother’s incessant disapproval, and her own lifelong friendships that just don’t seem to fit in this new life she’s enjoying.
Mom is drama. Tim is drama. Sometimes even Nan is drama. Jase and the Garretts… they’re whatever the opposite of drama is. The tidal pool warm in the summer sun, full of exotic life, but no danger.
But nothing is that simple in life, and when she is faced with an incredible life-changing dilemma, Samantha must face her own conscience. A few times, in fact.
You’re walking along on this path, dazzled by how perfect it is, how great you feel, and then just a few forks in the road and you are lost in a place so bad you never could have imagined it.
And this is her story. Her journey on her last year of high school as she navigates a whole new version of life and love, learning what friendships are real, and overcoming the superficial and judgmental issues her mother instilled in her.
I was curious as to where this one would go, and pleasantly surprised by a few characters, that my own judgie-judgerson-self had already overlooked as unredeemable. I was also sorely disappointed in a few others, but such is life. Which is why this story is so good.
I want to reach into her argument and pick out the thread that’s wrong, but it all seems like a tangle.
It wasn’t unputdownable for me, but it was always entertaining. The quality of the storytelling held me there, as if it were real life. I could see and hear them all. Sure… for a good part of the story, I wondered if anything was going to happen at all to change the rhythm (I had a few theories considering some that I thought were a few bad apples for sure). But when *something* did happen, it shocked me good.
Great read, and I definitely recommend it!