Disclaimer: This review first appeared on my Goodreads profile.
"Mmm-hmm?" He lifts up on one elbow, his face barely visible in the twilight.
"You have to kiss me," I find myself saying.
"Yeah." He leans closer. "I do."
Well holey-moley, as far as chick lit's go, this one isn't all that bad!It's got pretty much everything a chick-lit needs for it to work - compatible, likeable heroine, hot, sweet love interest and some funny quips to make it a light, enjoyable read.
So why the three stars?
I have a very particular rating system when it comes to chick-lits. I love them and they're my go-to books when I want something light, fluffy and sweet. Something to relax me after a day of work, or something to take my mind off the last book I read. My Life Next Door ticked the following boxes:
-An abundance of fluff ☑
- Likeable characters ☑
- Flowing writing ☑
However, there were some things that didn't quite sit right with me, and that starts with the summary:
As the two fall fiercely for each other, stumbling through the awkwardness and awesomeness of first love, Jase's family embraces Samantha - even as she keeps him a secret from her own. Then something unthinkable happens, and the bottom drops out of Samantha's world. She's suddenly faced with an impossible decision. Which perfect family will save her? Or is it time she saved herself?
Let's analyse this, shall we?
Which perfect family will save her? Or is it time she saved herself?
I despise it when people fit types of families into their own categories. None of the families in this book are considered 'perfect'. Jace, our love interest, comes from a huge family of ten people. They're loud, messy, and disorganised -- like most big families are, I can imagine. Samantha, on the other hand, comes from an even less perfect family - her mother is running for State Senator, which means she's never around, her sister even less than average and they don't have a father.
Personally, I would consider these families less than perfect, and I can't stand it when someone or something is considered 'perfect'. It's a very strong word to use. It would've sat better if it said'Which imperfect family will save her?'.
Another point: Or is it time she saved herself?
From the offset, you're predisposed to thinking that Samantha is a weak character with no backbone, purely for that one sentence. I, for one, thought exactly that before reading the book. However, that's not the case. For the situation she is face with, she's quite a strong person. It might come off as #whitegirlproblems or #richwhitegirlproblems, but it's far from that. Throughout the novel, we're shown time and time again Samantha taking situations into her own hands and sorting the problem. Alcoholic drug abuser friend? She sorts him out with a job and a friend that will take care of him. Cheating-on-tests-for-years best friend? She does the right thing and confronts said friend. Again, the summary could've been worded better.
Fitzpatrick did well with giving the relationship between Jason and Samantha some build-up before getting together. It spans over two/three months, and she handles all the characters incredibly well. The only complaint I have is the 'twist': we're given so much of Jase&Samantha lovin' that by the time it happens, it's almost a bother. Also, the way it's handled so quickly and no real drama happens, I think Fitzpatrick could've dealt with it better and maybe giving us more time to adjust to it. But no, the twist is over and done with in three very short chapters, and it adds nothing to the story, apart from the overused theme thatlove defeats all.
It's a mixture of Sarah Dessen meets a screenplay. The paragraphs and chapters, although flowing nicely, reads very much like a TV show. It jumps from one scene to the next, like you'd expect in a TV drama -- there's no cut to adverts but there might as well be. In one scene, Samantha is at work and the next she's at home making out with Jason. Although it fits well around the book, it can get quite annoying, especially when you want more out of a scene.
The characters are great! I absolutely loved Samantha and Jason, as well as Jason's huge family.
Especially little George, who is a bundle of laughs:
George backs out of the room, but not before saying, "His bed's really comfortable. And he never pees in it."
The door closes and we both start laughing.
There's Patsy, the baby:
George and Harry, my loyal fans, rave to their mother about my accomplishments, while Patsy immediately bursts into tears, points an accusing finger at her mother, and wails, "Boob!"
There's so many in the Garrett family that it's hard to keep track of who's who and how old they are and sometimes Mama Garrett will say someone's name and you'll forget who they are, but it works well for the messy, loud, large family they're supposed to be.
Overall, 3 solid stars. It's not a bad rating. It's my I-liked-it-and-will-probably-read-it-again rating, but the book just lost its momentum around 80% and didn't climax the way I hoped it would.