April 1, 2013

My Life Next Door by Huntley Fitzpatrick

Posted in Uncategorized tagged , , , at 1:26 am by suebe2

My Life Next Door
by Huntley Fitzpatrick
Dial Books
AR 4.4

Samantha has lived next door to the Garrett’s for years.  The Garrett’s are a big, boisterous family with a yard full of toys and a house full of love.  Unfortunately, all Samantha’s mother sees is the disorder.  Disorder has no place in the life of her mother, the Senator.  The woman is so “orderly” that she actually vacuums her way out of the house to keep from leaving tracks on the carpet.

But outside Samantha’s second story bedroom window is a the perfect vantage place on the roof.  Perfect for watching the stars.  Perfect too for watching the Garrett’s from a safe, envious distance.

Little does Samantha know that one of the Garrett’s has been watching her right back and one day he invites himself up the trellis to say hello.  Before she knows it, Samantha is spending almost every day with the Garretts, slipping back home right before her mother walks through the front door and sometimes sneaking off again at night.  It doesn’t take long before she’s in love with Jase Garrett and his family too.

I know I fell for the Garrett’s and fell hard.  My favorite may very well be worry wart George — a preschooler who gathers facts the way some kids pick up interesting rocks.  Unfortunately, he not only gathers them, he worries about them from black holes and tornadoes to blue ring octopus and whether or not bacon comes from Wilbur.

I can’t say a whole lot more without giving away plot that you must discover on your own.

Admittedly, I initially thought I had stumbled across a piece of chick lit.  Samantha and Jase are two beautiful people madly in love.  Sure, Samantha’s mother is a controlling loon but she’s a rich controlling loon and Samantha actually has it pretty easy even if she does have to listen to her mother’s lectures about bad choices resulting in a tough life.  Mom loves to deliver this lecture whenever she sees the Garretts and their many children.

But then Samantha begins to spot imperfections in the lives of those around here and I don’t mean the Garretts.   Soon she’s wonders how long she’s been lying to herself about people she’s known her entire life.

Yes, the book has a 4.4 reading level (4th grade, 4th month) but this is not a book for the grade school crowd.  These characters ultimately deal with drugs, alcohol, sex and a felony (I won’t say what because, again, I simply refuse to spoil this plot).    Everything that happens on screen is fairly mild so this book would be okay for a middle schooler but, again, not a grade schooler.

There’s a lot that goes on here but it would still be a good summer read.  There is tons of humor (oh, thank you, George) but enough substance to make you want to continue reading.  Fitzpatrick has created a book that deals with personal responsibility and appearances and is a must read for teens dealing with both in a society that emphasizes how you look to far too great an extent, over who you are and how you treat those around you.

–SueBE

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