Thursday, May 31, 2012

Up and Coming: My Life Next Door by Huntley Fitzpatrick

My Life Next Door by Huntley Fitzpatrick

Samantha Reed is aware that from the outside her life looks perfect. And as the senator's daughter, lots of people are looking. But the truth is, of course, something different. Her mom is the poster woman for success, she's raised two daughters on her own and now she's a rising star in the political world. But, her home is cold, clean and well vacuumed. Senator Reed expects her daughter to be smiling and put together for meet and greets and to do exactly as she's supposed to when the spotlight's not on her. Samantha can feel her mother's eyes on her all the time, even though her mom is barely at home any more.

Samantha's home alone all summer, but the house next door is full of life. The Garretts have lived next door to Samantha for ten years and in that time Samantha's mom has had ten years of negative things to say about their yard, their lifestyle and everything else about them. Samantha doesn't agree, to her, they look like a fun, warm and loving family. Her mother's disapproval has kept her away but it hasn't kept her from watching and wishing. When Jase Garrett crosses over into her yard, for once Samantha follows her own heart and finally gets to meet the family next door.

They are everything she thought they might be, messy sure, but also funny and caring. As she gets to know Jase, she also gets to see how much the Garretts care for each other and even how quick they all are to care about her. Samantha's still keeping the two worlds separate, desperate to keep her mother's extreme expectations met. But when something happens that threatens to tear her out of the Garrett's lives forever, Sam is forced to admit how much she has to lose.

This is Huntley Fitzpatrick's first book and it is so rich and emotionally charged that it reminds me of Jandy Nelson's The Sky is Everywhere. It is longer, but because of that you really get to dig into the characters, no one here is two dimensional, even the youngest Garretts are full of personality.

When the bottom drops out for Samantha, the reader falls along with her and that's a sure sign of how great the writing is in this book. Samantha's choices are not clear cut and it's not a sure thing which choice is even the right one to make. Every move she makes will hurt someone she loves, but Samantha's struggle to pick a path that she can be happy with completely had me turning pages as fast as any thriller would.

Because of the pacing, the characters and because I am now a big fan of Jase Garrett, I am definitely calling this one of my favorite reads of 2012.

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