Although they’ve been neighbors for 10 years, Samantha Reed and Jase Garrett are worlds apart. Rich, beautiful Samantha has led a privileged life, strictly dictated by her state senator mother. Jase, part of a large, boisterous family that’s despised by Samantha’s mother, has to work hard for what he gets. As fate would have it, the two teens fall in love despite—or perhaps because of—their different backgrounds. But the summer romance turns into a nightmarish moral dilemma as Samantha becomes aware of a secret, hidden by her mother’s unscrupulous campaign aide, which could destroy Jase’s family or ruin her mother’s political career. As Samantha wrestles with what to do, she risks losing her comfortable lifestyle, her mother’s trust, and the boy she most admires. Fitzpatrick’s excellent first novel movingly captures the intensity of first love, the corrupting forces of power, and the losses suffered by innocent victims caught in a web of political deceit. As the lines between villains and heroes shift, readers will be reminded how “right” and “wrong” choices are rarely crystal clear. Ages 12–up. Agent: Christina Hogrebe, Jane Rotrosen Agency. (June)
"Samantha and Jase have chemistry that crackles: it's the novel's tender, awkward, sexy, dizzy-happy portrayal of first love that really makes it soar."
"Jase and Samantha have a heart-warming romance every girl will envy."
"A wonderful read that will connect with your heart guaranteed!"
Praise for My Life Next Door
"A teen romance [that] feels like something bigger."—The Guardian
"Fitzpatrick's excellent first novel movingly captures the intensity of first love [and] the corrupting forces of power....As the lines between villains and heroes shift, readers will be reminded how "right" and "wrong" choices are rarely crystal clear."—Publishers Weekly, starred review
"Samantha and Jase have chemistry that crackles: it's the novel's tender, awkward, sexy, dizzy-happy portrayal of first love that really makes it soar."—The Horn Book
"The characters are dynamic and realistic. Strong narrative pacing adds to the whole sun-kissed package, which is on par with authors such as Sarah Dessen and Deb Caletti."—School Library Journal
"An almost perfect summer romance...[that] will have every girl who reads the novel wishing for a Jase of her own."—Kirkus Reviews
"Fitzpatrick perfectly captures the heady joys of first love while still dealing with everyday realities"—VOYA
"Jase and Samantha have a heart-warming romance every girl will envy."—Simone Elkeles, New York Times bestselling author of the Perfect Chemistry series
"A wonderful read that will connect with your heart guaranteed!"—Lurlene McDaniel, bestselling author of HEART TO HEART
"One of the best books I read this past year. . . . Wonderful, uplifting and beautifully written."—Kristan Higgins, New York Times bestselling author
Best First Book Finalist for the Romance Writers of America RITA Awards
Now seventeen, Samantha Reed has grown up stealthily observing the Garrett family next door, from the second floor ledge outside her bedroom window. The Garretts are total opposites of the Reeds and exactly what Sam's mother dislikes. They are a chaotic, but loving, family of two parents and eight children. The Reeds consist of Sam, her sister, and her single mother. Mrs. Reed is distant and reserved, and has an obsession with cleaning her house; she is running for state office and has become involved with her campaign managera slick, political handler. Sam is in love with Jase Garrett and covets his family life, but she keeps their relationship a secret because Mrs. Reed has warned her to have nothing to do with the Garretts. After an accident that devastates both families, Sam reevaluates her relationships with her mother, Jase, and the Garretts. Fitzpatrick perfectly captures the heady joys of first love while still dealing with everyday realities, including the ups and downs with her best friend, Nan, and Nan's brother, Tim. The contrast between the two families is stark, yet realistic: from the distant, wealthy mother to the just-scraping-by but loving and loud family next door. The accident makes Sam question her beliefs about truth, loyalty, betrayal, and doing what is right. Looking like a perfect family does not make it so, as Sam knows, but her mother cannot acknowledge this. Secondary characters are well developed and add to the story's advancement. Girls will love the romance, and they will identify with Sam's anguish over her dilemmas. Reviewer: Jane Van Wiemokly
Gr 9 Up—Summer romance fun with substance describes not only this novel but also its scrumptious male lead. More than just a handsome face attached to a football player's physique, Jase Garrett is thoughtful, able, and kind. His eight-kid, boisterous, loving family has fascinated 17-year-old Samantha Reed since she was seven. She watches her neighbors from afar until the summer evening Jase climbs onto her roof with an offer to rescue her—and he does. With their unkempt yard, noise, and mess, the Garretts have always been a thorn in the side of Samantha's perfectionist mother so it's no surprise that as Samantha falls under Jase's spell and enters the wonderful and wacky world of the Garrett clan, she doesn't tell her mother, who is busy with her own bid to win reelection to the Connecticut state senate and is enthralled with a gung-ho new political advisor. Samantha juggles lifeguarding at the tennis club with waitressing, but she still has plenty of time to discover with Jase what all those love songs are about, including the decisions about whether or not to act on their heady chemistry. Mr. Garrett's struggling hardware store means Jase needs a football scholarship. It also means that when tragedy strikes, everything about Samantha's nearly perfect relationship becomes uncertain. The characters are dynamic and realistic. Strong narrative pacing adds to the whole sun-kissed package, which is on par with authors such as Sarah Dessen and Deb Caletti.—Suzanne Gordon, Peachtree Ridge High School, Suwanee, GA
Good-girl Samantha finds herself when she falls for the boy next door. Her perfectionist, state-senator mother hasn't forgiven "those Garretts" for moving next door 10 years ago. The burgeoning family (seven children by the time Samantha turns 17) is white trash as far as she's concerned. But Samantha finds herself fascinated, watching the messy, boisterous family from the roof outside her window. When gorgeous Jase climbs up to talk to her one night, she begins to loosen her emotional stays for the first time in her life. Fitzpatrick delivers an almost perfect summer romance: The way Jase woos Samantha--gently, with humor, patience and a joint trip to CVS to pick out condoms--will have every girl who reads the novel wishing for a Jase of her own. His family is equally beguiling, a dramatic foil for Samantha's sterile life with her campaigning mother. The story unfolds slowly, Samantha's present-tense narration smart, funny and mildly astonished at the changes wrought by her new relationship. The leisurely pace encompasses a subplot in which one of Sam's oldest friends, now an alcoholic and drug addict, begins his healing at the hands of the Garretts as well. Everything's going so well that readers will feel as sucker punched as the characters when catastrophe strikes. Though the resolution is rushed, it is also satisfying--just as satisfying as Sam and Jase's first night together. (Fiction. 14 & up)