I can’t believe I was so disappointed with this book after seeing all of the four and five star reviews, and although I wasn’t sure whether or not I was actually going to review this book, I guess I better explain myself.
First of all, I don’t think there was any character development. She didn’t really make up with her best friend, and she doesn’t resolve her bad relationship with her Mum, but hey, at least she got into the family she’d been spying on for the past ten years, right? No! She moves house at the end of the novel, so she doesn’t even get to stay near the Garretts anymore! And will their relationship stand up after the move? I don’t know, but her mum’s partner did almost kill Jase’s dad and tried to keep it a secret from him. Who wouldn’t want to stay together if that was their relationship?
But I’m getting ahead of myself- I know, let’s turn this into a bullet point list.
- The first 250 pages approximately are all about Samantha and Jase building up to having sex. This is one hundred per cent not the focus that I wanted this novel to have. I’m not complaining about the fact that there was sexual content in this novel, because it’s about teenagers, and teenagers have sex. It’s gotten to the point in the contemporary genre that if sex isn’t mention or there isn’t some kind of sexual content then it’s regarded as ‘not realistic.’ Whether you believe in that or not, is for you to decide yourself. To conclude this point, although I thought it was realistic, it was completely unnecessary. I bought this book to read about family, not about two teenagers and their intense hormonal desires.
I will pause the list to include this disclaimer: I did not hate this book. I might have some pretty strong opinions on it that other reader’s may not agree with. I was reading this book with my friend Holly and I always find that when I read a book with the specific intention of reviewing it, I tend to pick up more points and dislike more things. On with the bullet points.
- The relationship with her mother. I just wanted to shake Samantha and Grace and tell them that some simple communication skills would have solved all of their problems. This is the part where I really felt sympathetic to Sam, because she had a Mum who just wouldn’t sit down and actually listen to her. I was seriously expecting them to have a big heart to heart like the characters in Just One Day, but they didn’t – leaving this big gaping hole in their relationship and as a reader I want that hole sewn up!
- More communications issues: the best friend. If they talked to each other, calmly explained what was going on, and made sure to tell the truth then absolutely everything would’ve been fine. I thought Nan had a massive over-reaction to Samantha not saying anything about Jase. I mean, come on. He was forbidden, she didn’t want the secret to get back to her Mum, and surely her friend could understand that. I also thought the cheating subplot could have been explored a lot more, it was one of the first inclinations that this book was going to be about more than sex. Sidenote, I really want to know what Nan is short for!
- Considering this book was sold to me on the basis that it centered on a family, I was disappointed with actually how little time we spent with them. Sam babysat for the Garretts which was the only real time where we got to see all the kids, and I loved how each of them interacted differently with Samantha, but personality wise I with Fitzpatrick tried to make them as individual as possible. It was very reminiscent of Cheaper By The Dozen. I think I would like to read a YA book where the main character is part of a big family, because I felt we lost some of the family dynamic seeing it from Sam’s point of view.
- Finally, I hate to say it but Clay might have been my favourite character because I hated him sosososo much. Why does this make him my favourite, you ask? Because he was probably the only character that I had any strong feelings about at all, even if they were negative, and he was the villain! I just didn’t connect with any of the other main characters.
This has been a bitterly honest review, but I just felt like I needed to express my opinion. I’ve read some other reviews and I think that My Life Next Door may well be a Marmite book. You either love it or you hate it, and I’m afraid to say that I’m leaning closer to dislike. Not hate, but just some healthy dislike.