“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, 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?
Design – Theresa Evangelista
I can’t get past how awkward the couple in the photo look. The barely touching, almost kissing is just uncomfortable looking. I really like the overall layout and colors of the cover. The colors have the perfect sun-drenched filter tone which gives the cover a soft feeling. I love the off-center layout of the title and the way it stands out against the fence but doesn’t overpower the photo.
My Life Next Door is a beautifully written story about finding love and finding yourself. Samantha’s world is so different from the Garretts’ next door, but the simplest action connects them. And as Jase and Samantha fall in love, Samantha falls in love with the Garrett family and their life, until her mother makes a mistake that could tear both families apart. This story has it all – humor, love, family drama – if you need a good contemporary, I highly recommend it.
- the Garretts – There are a lot of Garretts – 8 kids – and while we don’t see a lot of the middle kids, all of them have their own personalities. Each Garrett has their own interactions with Sam and some of them voice their opinions of Jase and Sam’s relationship. The youngest kids, George and Patsy, are adorable and great comedic relief. There are so many kids coming and going constantly that it’s like they all inhabit their own world. I’m really impressed with how each Garrett is developed enough to seem like a real person. Their family is so big and chaotic, yet cheerful – just the opposite of Sam’s small and quiet home.
- Jase – Jase is so outgoing and full of life. He sees Sam and simply climbs up to her roof to introduce himself. He’s an honest and open person, used to being surrounded by people and never complains about taking care of his siblings. Jase clearly loves his family and it’s obvious that he loves how well Sam gets along with them. Jase and Sam fall easily into an honest and comfortable relationship with each other – no drama, no secrets.
- Samantha – Sam works hard all the time, giving up the things she actually likes doing just to please her overly controlling mother. The thing about Sam is that even when she sees how loving and free the Garretts are and even when she realizes how closed minded and judgmental her own mom is, she never whines about anything. Even when her mother is treating her as nothing more than a pawn in her political campaign, demanding that she be the perfect child and have no fun ever, Sam doesn’t blow up or get melodramatic. She doesn’t get stuck in self-pity either. Sam just deals by going next door and being with Jase and his family. She’s smart and a bit of a smartass and she wants the best for her friends even when they don’t deserve it.
- Tim – At first, Tim is a hard person to like. He’s perpetually stoned, rude to everyone, and couldn’t care less about anyone else. He can’t seem to hold a job and has no plan for his future. However, Tim accepts a job from Mr. Garrett that comes with the condition that he attend AA meetings, and gradually becomes a good friend to Sam and Jase. Despite all his mistakes, Tim is an intelligent guy and I enjoyed his journey.
- plot – Sam’s personal growth sees her transitioning from someone who always follows the rules and colors inside the lines to someone who voices her opinions and stands up for what she believes in. Sam’s mother is truly oppressive – demanding that Sam do everything from re-vacuum the obsessively vacuumed house to get out of the house so she can entertain donors. Sam finds love and acceptance with the Garretts, who, despite having eight kids, pay attention to who their kids are. Sam knows her mom isn’t doing what’s right and she speaks up about it. She goes from being the person her mother expects her to be to being her own person who more openly questions things like her mother’s opinion of the Garretts.
- Samantha’s mom + Clay – Clay is clearly a slimy sleaze from the start. He wiggles his way into Sam’s life because of his relationship with her mother, and acts as if he’s someone Sam should listen to. Clay is obviously a villain – a manipulative guy with no morals or ethics to speak of. What’s worse than Clay, however, is his power over Sam’s mom. Because she’s running for political office, Sam’s mom is focused on herself and her career almost 100% of the time. She fully buys into every little thing Clay says, even when it compromises her values or her own relationship with Sam.
George gives me a smile, the same dazzling sweet smile as his big brother, although, at this point, with green teeth. “I might marry you,” he allows. “Do you want a big family?”
I start to cough and feel a hand pat my back.
“George, it’s usually better to discuss this kind of thing with your pants on.” Jase drops boxer shorts at George’s feet, then sets Patsy on the ground next to him.
– George, Samantha, Jase pg. 32
I look into Jase’s eyes and tell the only truth I have. “I don’t know. I didn’t have that choice. But I know what’s happening now. And I’m choosing to stay with you.”
– Samantha + Jase pg. 351
Acquired: bought (ebook)