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My Life Next Door
Cover of My Life Next Door
My Life Next Door
A gorgeous debut about family, friendship, first romance, and how to be true to one person you love without betraying another“One thing my mother never knew, and would disapprove of most of all,...
A gorgeous debut about family, friendship, first romance, and how to be true to one person you love without betraying another“One thing my mother never knew, and would disapprove of most of all,...
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  • A gorgeous debut about family, friendship, first romance, and how to be true to one person you love without betraying another
    “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, numerous, messy, affectionate. And every day from her balcony perch, seventeen-year-old Samantha Reed wishes she was one of them . . . until one summer evening, Jase Garrett climbs her terrace and changes everything. As the two fall fiercely in love, Jase's family makes Samantha one of their own. Then in an instant, the bottom drops out of her world and she is suddenly faced with an impossible decision. Which perfect family will save her? Or is it time she saved herself?
    A dreamy summer read, full of characters who stay with you long after the story is over.
 

Awards-

Excerpts-

  • From the book

    MY

    LIFE

    NEXT

    DOOR

    by Huntley Fitzpatrick

    DIAL BOOKS

    an imprint of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

    Table of Contents

    Chapter One

    The Garretts were forbidden from the start.

    But that’s not why they were important.

    We were standing in our yard that day ten years ago when their battered sedan pulled up to the low-slung shingled house next door, close behind the moving van.

    “Oh no,” Mom sighed, arms falling to her sides. “I hoped we could have avoided this.”

    “This—what?” my big sister called from down the driveway. She was eight and already restless with Mom’s chore of the day, planting jonquil bulbs in our front garden. Walking quickly to the picket fence that divided our house from the one next door, she perched on her tiptoes to peer at the new neighbors. I pressed my face to the gap in the slats, watching in amazement as two parents and five children spilled from the sedan, like a clown car at the circus.

    “This kind of thing.” Mom gestured toward the car with the trowel, twisting her silvery blond hair into a coil with the other hand. “There’s one in every neighborhood. The family that never mows their lawn. Has toys scattered everywhere. The ones who never plant flowers, or do and let them die. The messy family who lowers real estate values. Here they are. Right next door. You’ve got that bulb wrong side up, Samantha.”

    I switched the bulb around, scooting my knees in the dirt to get closer to the fence, my eyes never leaving the father as he swung a baby from a car seat while a curly-haired toddler climbed his back. “They look nice,” I said.

    I remember there was a silence then, and I looked up at my mother.

    She was shaking her head at me, a strange expression on her face. “Nice isn’t the point here, Samantha. You’re seven years old. You need to understand what’s important. Five children. Good God. Just like your father’s family. Insanity.” She shook her head again, rolling her eyes heavenward.

    I moved closer to Tracy and edged a fleck of white paint off the fence with my thumbnail. My sister looked at me with the same warning face she used when she was watching TV and I walked up to ask her a question.

    He’s cute,” she said, squinting over the fence again. I looked over to see an older boy unfold himself from the back of the car, baseball mitt in hand, reaching back to haul out a cardboard box full of sports gear.

    Even then, Tracy liked to deflect, to forget how hard our mother found being a parent. Our dad had walked away without even a good-bye, leaving Mom with a one-year-old, a baby on the way, a lot of disillusionment, and, luckily, her trust fund from her parents.

    As the years proved, our new neighbors, the Garretts, were exactly what Mom predicted. Their lawn got mowed sporadically at best. Their Christmas lights stayed hung till Easter. Their backyard was a hodgepodge of an in-ground pool and a trampoline and a swing set and monkey bars. Periodically, Mrs. Garrett would make an effort to plant something seasonal, chrysanthemums in September, impatiens in June, only to leave it to gasp and wither away as she tended to something more important, like her five children. They became eight children over the years. All approximately three years apart.

    “My unsafe zone,” I overheard Mrs. Garrett explain one day at the supermarket when Mrs. Mason commented on her burgeoning belly, “is twenty-two months. That’s when they suddenly aren’t babies...

Reviews-

  • Publisher's Weekly

    Starred review from April 23, 2012
    Although they’ve been neighbors for 10 years, Samantha Reed and Jase Garrett are worlds apart. Rich, beautiful Samantha has led a privileged life, strictly dictated by her state senator mother. Jase, part of a large, boisterous family that’s despised by Samantha’s mother, has to work hard for what he gets. As fate would have it, the two teens fall in love despite—or perhaps because of—their different backgrounds. But the summer romance turns into a nightmarish moral dilemma as Samantha becomes aware of a secret, hidden by her mother’s unscrupulous campaign aide, which could destroy Jase’s family or ruin her mother’s political career. As Samantha wrestles with what to do, she risks losing her comfortable lifestyle, her mother’s trust, and the boy she most admires. Fitzpatrick’s excellent first novel movingly captures the intensity of first love, the corrupting forces of power, and the losses suffered by innocent victims caught in a web of political deceit. As the lines between villains and heroes shift, readers will be reminded how “right” and “wrong” choices are rarely crystal clear. Ages 12–up. Agent: Christina Hogrebe, Jane Rotrosen Agency.

  • Kirkus

    May 15, 2012
    Good-girl Samantha finds herself when she falls for the boy next door. Her perfectionist, state-senator mother hasn't forgiven "those Garretts" for moving next door 10 years ago. The burgeoning family (seven children by the time Samantha turns 17) is white trash as far as she's concerned. But Samantha finds herself fascinated, watching the messy, boisterous family from the roof outside her window. When gorgeous Jase climbs up to talk to her one night, she begins to loosen her emotional stays for the first time in her life. Fitzpatrick delivers an almost perfect summer romance: The way Jase woos Samantha--gently, with humor, patience and a joint trip to CVS to pick out condoms--will have every girl who reads the novel wishing for a Jase of her own. His family is equally beguiling, a dramatic foil for Samantha's sterile life with her campaigning mother. The story unfolds slowly, Samantha's present-tense narration smart, funny and mildly astonished at the changes wrought by her new relationship. The leisurely pace encompasses a subplot in which one of Sam's oldest friends, now an alcoholic and drug addict, begins his healing at the hands of the Garretts as well. Everything's going so well that readers will feel as sucker punched as the characters when catastrophe strikes. Though the resolution is rushed, it is also satisfying--just as satisfying as Sam and Jase's first night together. (Fiction. 14 & up)

    COPYRIGHT(2012) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

  • School Library Journal

    June 1, 2012

    Gr 9 Up-Summer romance fun with substance describes not only this novel but also its scrumptious male lead. More than just a handsome face attached to a football player's physique, Jase Garrett is thoughtful, able, and kind. His eight-kid, boisterous, loving family has fascinated 17-year-old Samantha Reed since she was seven. She watches her neighbors from afar until the summer evening Jase climbs onto her roof with an offer to rescue her-and he does. With their unkempt yard, noise, and mess, the Garretts have always been a thorn in the side of Samantha's perfectionist mother so it's no surprise that as Samantha falls under Jase's spell and enters the wonderful and wacky world of the Garrett clan, she doesn't tell her mother, who is busy with her own bid to win reelection to the Connecticut state senate and is enthralled with a gung-ho new political advisor. Samantha juggles lifeguarding at the tennis club with waitressing, but she still has plenty of time to discover with Jase what all those love songs are about, including the decisions about whether or not to act on their heady chemistry. Mr. Garrett's struggling hardware store means Jase needs a football scholarship. It also means that when tragedy strikes, everything about Samantha's nearly perfect relationship becomes uncertain. The characters are dynamic and realistic. Strong narrative pacing adds to the whole sun-kissed package, which is on par with authors such as Sarah Dessen and Deb Caletti.-Suzanne Gordon, Peachtree Ridge High School, Suwanee, GA

    Copyright 2012 Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

  • The Horn Book

    January 1, 2013
    Samantha's type-A state senator mother has always warned her to stay away from the boisterous Garrett family next door. But Samantha falls in love with Jase--and the rest of the Garretts. The ensuing moral quandary is handled capably and with empathy. Treatment of varied subjects without didacticism, believably imperfect characters, and a tender portrayal of first love make this novel soar.

    (Copyright 2013 by The Horn Book, Incorporated, Boston. All rights reserved.)

  • The Horn Book

    November 1, 2012
    Samantha Reed's type-A mother, a Connecticut state senator, has always warned her to stay away from the boisterous, messy, multiplying Garrett family next door. But the summer before her senior year, Samantha meets thoughtful and handsome Jase, who brings her into the Garrett fold. As her mother becomes more involved with her re-election campaign -- and with her much-younger campaign manager -- Samantha falls in love with Jase and the rest of the Garretts. Her happiness, however, is short-lived: You're walking along on this path, dazzled by how perfect it is, how great you feel, and then just a few forks in the road and you are lost in a place so bad you never could have imagined it. The ensuing tragedy and moral quandary is handled capably and with empathy. In fact, despite Fitzpatrick's treatment of such varied subjects as political opportunism, substance abuse, wealth disparity, and academic cheating, excellent characterization prevents any sentimentality or didacticism. Each character -- and there are a lot of them -- is layered and believably imperfect, and everyone (even four-year-old George Garrett) spouts incisive, witty, wish-I'd-thought-of-that dialogue. Most of all, Samantha and Jase have chemistry that crackles: it's the novel's tender, awkward, sexy, dizzy-happy portrayal of first love that really makes it soar. rachel l. smith

    (Copyright 2012 by The Horn Book, Incorporated, Boston. All rights reserved.)

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