“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?
My Life Next Door was one of those books that paints you a picture of exactly what's going on at any given moment, in terms that almost anyone can understand. I, for one, found it very true-to-life, and full of little heart-breaking moments, and not-so-heart-breaking ones.
I can imagine a house full of eight kids, where the mom and pop love each other, and sit on the porch while the mom breast-feeds on the pop's lap. My best friend has a family like that. Where the mom and pop ain't afraid to talk about sex at the dinner table, (not that my parents are afraid of that subject either) or to calmly talk about the benefits of breast-feeding. We're used to it, so it doesn't seem so odd when we encounter it in books.
We find it normal. And it is, to us. We see it all the time, and we're not afraid of it. For some reason, Samantha's mom is scared to death of it. She wants the Garrett's to leave. Says it lowers real-estate value, but really, she's just scared of that kind of love in a family. She's never seen it, and it scares her. She doesn't understand it. She's had her 2.5 kids, and she's done.
Samantha, on the other hand, watches the Garrett's. She doesn't want them to leave, because she wants to observe their lifestyle. Everything she doesn't understand, right down to the mom and pop having a working relationship. She wants that kind of love, that kind of family, so she watches them for years.
Lo and behold, Samantha and Jase meet! Here's her ticket to that kind of love. But she doesn't know it. They're just friends, for the time being. Then, they're more than friends. They're dating, and things couldn't be going better for them.
I get it. And I loved it. Samantha's character wasn't particularly strong, or kind, or out of the box in any way, but in the end, you realize how different she is than she was in the beginning. She's changed, and she's never going back to who she was before (hopefully). Because she was a follower. She listened to her mother for her entire life, then she broke her mother's law. In the best way possible.
I enjoyed Jase's character, because of all the danger, but also all the kindness that he brought to the table. He was a real sweetheart, and I appreciate that in a guy. All in all, I'd say that I really enjoyed this book, and I'll be reading it again.