My Life Next Door by Huntley Fitzpatrick
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
The hardest reviews to write are of the books I hated and the books I loved. I feel like I have to justify the extremes, especially when there were parts of the book that I didn't love/hate. So there are parts that aren't perfect but the important parts are wonderful.
The storyline: Wonderful. It's a simple story of real first love with a conflict occurring where Samantha feels she has to choose between her boyfriend and her mother. It's a standard story of girl meets boy from the other side of the tracks and falls in love except MUCH, MUCH better written than I've read before. Written with Samantha's point of view which is seeing Jase as kind, handsome, family-centered boy that she meets and character development completely justifies why Samantha would fall for him.
Character Development: Much, much more than smoldering eyes, smelling of patchouli, rippling muscles, repeat 35 times. Jase is good. He's only forbidden fruit because his family brings down the property values in the neighborhood. They keep having kids, don't put away their toys, and the mother breast feeds on the front porch. Gasp! Yet the author describes interactions between Jase and his mother, Jase and his father, Jase and his siblings. There is tension, at times, but Jase is boy fully in love with his family. Which makes the interaction between Samantha and Jase that much sweeter.
Well written protagonist. She could be any girl except her mother has a trust fund and is a senator. She's not a girl you love for her character. You love her because you could be her.
Her mother and the creepy southern guy. Oh. My. Nicely written. Good arguments that made my stomach turn. Very manipulative.
Tim. Oh how I loved Tim. He became a somewhat peripheral figure but he was necessary and completely lovable character. He's what drew all the loose ends together. He's the completely flawed friend who has screwed up his life beyond recognition and is justthisclose from being sent off to a wilderness/military reform. Yet he's the person that encompasses the major theme of the book. Mistakes are made but can be forgiven. People can change.
The mother in me feels the need to make disclaimers. The woman in me loved these aspects, anyway. Swearing is intense when the scene is played out with Tim. He has a very bad mouth. You can't help but love the boy, though. Language can be narrowed down to innuendo. It's not bad. Sex is definitely present. Some details are revealed but again, I think they were necessary. It's not painted as a wonderful ABC movie of the night. Logistics are discussed in enough detail to explain why teenage sex is an interesting endeavor.
*I received a free copy of this book from publishing company in exchange for an honest review. The opinions expressed here are my own.