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?. – Goodreads
What do you do when your family is perfect and you’re not? That is something that Samantha deals with on a daily basis, being the black sheep of her family and that is why the Garretts, her next door neighbors fascinate her. They are loud, messy, they all love each other, something that Samantha doesn’t know much about. Samantha’s mom, who is also a Republican State Senator, is very orderly, and her sister, Tracy, is the same way. They don’t understand the appeal of the Garretts, who are loud and numerous.
Samantha’s mom is extremely hard core. Sam was late one night, in the middle of summer, by a few minutes and her mom acts like it is the end of the world and reminds her that with an election coming up everything is on the line. Sam loathes the amount of pressure that has put on her, understandably. As hard as her mom is on her, Samantha still loves her, it’s her mom. She has no dad in the picture, her mom doesn’t bring many guys home. It’s always been her mom, sister and Samantha. Throughout this summer, Samantha begins to miss her mom. Her mom is running for election and her campaign manager has become close to her mother and her mom is slowly not the mom she remembers.
What Samantha doesn’t expect is Jase next door. Jase who’s completely different from her. College isn’t a guarantee for him. Money is tight with his family. Jase has a completely different life from Samantha and she loves it..and..him? Their relationship grows slowly, organically, and with constant interruptions they don’t move too quickly. But his family is completely different from hers. His house is always loud, hers is always silent. There is always left over food in her house, and his family makes sure food is on the table but not many left overs. What did surprise me from this novel was the character of Tim. A character who at the beginning of the novel I wanted to slap, to the end where I wanted to hug him from the growth that occurred.
This book should have worked for me. I logically know it should have but so many parts of it just fell a bit flat for me. While I enjoyed the family dynamics and the friendships (as I do), the book just fell flat for me. I did appreciate that Samantha realized that not everyone is as perfect as she thought they were. From her BFF who is going through her own shit, to her friends that judge the Garretts for being mid-to-lower class, to a very dramatic turn that occurs throughout about 70% of the novel. I also enjoyed how sex was handled in this novel. I found that aspect to be extremely realistic. Even with all of this love, My Life Next Door still fell flat for me. I wanted more resolution to the novel!
From an audiobook point of view, I found this interesting because as I just finished The Selection series, this had the same narrator and I was thrown by that. But it didn’t ruin my enjoyment of My Life Next Door and the Sarah Dessen/Stephanie Perkins feels that I had throughout this novel.