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Review: My Life Next Door

My Life Next Door - Huntley Fitzpatrick

I received a copy from Netgalley.

Actual rating 3.5 stars.

For the most part I really liked it, it started out as contemporary summer time fluff that seemed to meander along, and there was a sort of sense that something was going to happen eventually, but nothing seemed to for a long time, then all of a sudden BIG ASS PLOT TWIST. Only thing I didn't really like about the novel was the end and the conclusion of the plot twist. I didn't feel that the culprit suffered enough for what happened at all.

The novel tells the story of Samantha Reed who has a very privileged life, comes from money, has a trust fund and a perfect older sister off to college in the fall, and a mother running for state Senator. Her life is structured and regimented, she's the good smart girl with everything going for her. Unlike their neighbours, the Garrett family, a couple with many many children of all ages. Sam has been told by her very snooty mother since she was a kid and the Garretts moved in - not to associate with the likes of "those Garretts".

However, Sam has a great view of their yard from outside her window, where she finds herself drawn to watching them, particularly the good looking son Jase, who is her age. When Jase catches Sam watching them, they start a tentative friendship which quickly develops into something more. Its cute and fluffy fun as Samantha comes from from her high horse and starts to get to know Jase and his parents and all the different siblings ranging from a handful of very small children to high school aged to adolescent. Of course Sam doesn't tell anyone she knows, her best friend Nan and her twin Tim, about any of it.

Sam's mom is running a new political campaign which takes pretty much all of her time, and her rather creepy campaign manager Clay who tries to be charming but really it comes off as kind of weird and as I said, creepy. Mom is so focused on her political career pretty much everything else takes a back seat and everyone else in the family is pretty much expected to be available as and when required. Sam's older sister Tracy escapes with her boyfriend to rent a summer home and work before college starts. But Tracy seems to get away with so much more than Sam does.

Sam's time is taken up increasingly as she gets to know Jase and the Garrett family and the friendship slowly becomes a very swoony romance. Jase is sweet and decent and very charming. Though as fun as it is, it does get pretty boring very fast. Manic family with cute kids getting in the way all the time. There's a side story line with Sam discovering some unfortunate secrets her best friend has been keeping from her and this puts a major strain on the friendship which has some pretty dramatic explosions at some point.

Another side plot with Nan's twin brother Tim, who at the start of the novel was a waste of space. Tim was a stoner who was pretty much only concerned about having a good time, despite the help Nan and Sam give him trying to get him set with summer jobs and helping him out when he screws up. Tim winds up actually becoming one of the best characters in the book by the end. Through Sam he inevitably winds up becoming friends with Jase and finds out about Sam's relationship but Tim's help and friendship turn out to be pretty awesome when Sam needs someone and Nan isn't there.

Other than best friend dramatics the whole thing was pretty smooth sailing up until about 70% of the book, then there is an absolutely gut wrenching plot twist which dramatically changes the tone of the novel. Something really horrible happens and no one quite knows how to deal with it. The worst thing is Samantha knows what happened. She can't tell anyone because it would have totally dramatic consequences for other people. Its terrible how she's pressured and at one point blackmailed to keep the secret.

Samantha's Mom is one of the worst mothers in YA. Self obsessed and only focused on her career, can't admit when she's made a mistake. And Sam is the dramatic one when she points things out that are hard to hear. There's one incident of Sam sneaking in after curfew, its summer, she's 17, she's never been in trouble and Mom is having a freak out. And its skeevy Clay who makes her see different. More than a few times Clay manages to manipulate the mother into seeing things his way. He talks down to Samantha terribly. Pet names, supposedly charming southern drawl. Its not charming on this character at all. He's an ass.

At least by the end of the novel, everyone knows about Samantha and Jase, and there's just so much more now than their relationship. At least they are smart enough to realise this. Also, the truth regarding the terrible incident comes out. Though I still think something more should have been done. I can understand in a way, why it ended the way it did, but I wasn't impressed. It was too little too late for my taste and no real suffering on the part of the person responsible.

For the most part I did like the novel, it was well written, and entertaining, and did get quite emotional towards the end. The end kind of left this reader a little empty. After all that...it was....that's it?

Thank you to Netgalley and Egmont Publishing/Electric Monkey for approving my request to view the title.