My life next door

Sometimes, you need to read something light-hearted and fun and sometimes you need to read something with a little more depth to it. I felt the need to read something light not too long ago and picked up a book I was certain would make me smile. It did, but I had no idea what more it would give me. So much more. My life next door is a love story, but apparently, not only.

Samantha Reed is a seventeen year old girl who lives with her sister Tracy and her mother, who happens to be the state senator and a very strict woman. From the moment the Garretts moved in next door, years ago, both Samantha and Tracy were strictly forbidden to be around them. But Samantha has always been fascinated by that huge, crazy family of ten people; she has watched them from her little balcony for years. But everything changes one summer night when Jase Garrett climbs up to her balcony to introduce himself. They fall in love, with Samantha spending a lot of time at the Garretts house while working hard to keep her relationship away from her mother’s knowledge. But then the most unexpected thing of all happens, something so huge and so horrible in all aspects that Samantha finds herself standing in a crossroad. To be the person she’s grown up to be, or to be the person she actually wants to be?

It is a sweet love story between Samantha and Jase, their two worlds so different even though they live next door, and yet they get along great together. The story talks a lot about their relationship, the different aspects and how they stumble forward as the quite uncertain seventeen year olds they are. But it’s not all about that. All I knew was that something was going to happen, but I had no idea what that was until I read it. And all of a sudden, it wasn’t just a love story anymore. It was a moral story. It was a story about right and wrong and how to act in a situation where practically every move you make will hurt someone else. To figure out the best way, for everybody, to keep moving forward.

I have to say, I wasn’t really prepared for that, only for something, but not what actually happened. And somehow, even though I wanted to read it because I just wanted something light-hearted that made me smile, that moral question halfway through the book gave a lot to the story. It made me think very much on how I would’ve acted in a situation like the one Samantha found herself in. And that’s one of those things that makes a book good, something that sticks and makes you ask yourself “What would I do? How would I react?”

The things that bothered me with the book though, weren’t the story itself. It was the characters and the writing. I felt that some of the characters were weak and didn’t have any depth, or in some cases, not enough depth. There was really only one character that I really liked, someone who wasn’t in the main spot but still grew a lot during the story and gave much to the book. It’s quite sad that neither Samantha nor Jase was as strong as I would’ve liked them, but at least one character really stood out and felt like a living person through and through.

The writing in itself was also something that bothered me from time to time. I read one of those one-sentence reviews on the back cover that said the language was beautiful, so I had high expectations. It didn’t live up to that. Some parts felt rushed and sometimes I had to reread a sentence more than once to figure out what it meant, because I just couldn’t figure it out. There were also moments when I felt I wanted more, again, more depth. It was plain, from time to time. Even. Good, but not great. I also missed something, but I’m not really sure what that was. Just something, that little bit of extra. That thing that made you feel like you where there. The smell, the warmth of the sun, the feeling of being in the story and not the one holding the book.

All in all though, Huntley Fitzpatrick has written a good, thought-provoking book. It could’ve been better, but it could also have been worse. It will be one of those books that I will have standing in my bookcase and I will look at it from time to time and I will smile because it was a good read. But I don’t think I will long to read it over and over. It won’t be a book to go back to, but a book to take out sometime, when I’m bored.