My Life Next Door by Huntley FitzpatrickMy Life Next Door by Huntley Fitzpatrick

My Life Next Door

byHuntley Fitzpatrick

Paperback | June 13, 2013

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A gorgeous debut about family, friendship, first romance, and how to be true to one person you love without betraying another

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?

A dreamy summer read, full of characters who stay with you long after the story is over.

"A summer romance with depth." —The Boston Sunday Globe

"Fitzpatrick's excellent first novel movingly captures the intensity of first love." —Publishers Weekly, starred review

"An almost perfect summer romance." —Kirkus Reviews

"On par with authors such as Sarah Dessen and Deb Caletti." —SLJ
Huntley Fitzpatrick has always wanted to be a writer, ever since growing up in a small coastal Connecticut town much like the Stony Bay of her novel My Life Next Door. After college she worked in many fields, including academic publishing and as an editor at Harlequin. Huntley is currently a full-time writer, and mom to six children. S...
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Title:My Life Next DoorFormat:PaperbackDimensions:432 pages, 8.25 × 5.5 × 1.08 inPublished:June 13, 2013Publisher:Penguin Young Readers GroupLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0142426040

ISBN - 13:9780142426043

Reviews

Rated 4 out of 5 by from cute this ones a great summer read
Date published: 2017-09-07
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Absolutely Loved It! This novel was one of the best summer teen romance stories I've read in a while. I made all my friends read it and I can't wait to read the next one. #plumreview
Date published: 2017-08-07
Rated 5 out of 5 by from amazing story! I read this last summer and it was one of the best teen romance books that I ever read
Date published: 2017-08-07
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A Fun Read! I loved this book. I thought the story was well written and the ending was unexpected. It was a story that had me laughing, feeling the love and even shedding a few tears. I would definitely recommend this book. A nice relaxing read. #plumreview
Date published: 2017-07-27
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Absolutely loved it! I loved this story! I could not put the book down! Great strong story line.
Date published: 2017-05-30
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Cute novel Cute novel, quite enjoyed reading it and I would recommend it to others
Date published: 2017-05-24
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Great superficial book It is a fun book to read while being in summer vacation, it's a light subject. But I think the author should have explore more some of the caracters. Their story get left behind. But fun overall.
Date published: 2017-05-24
Rated 5 out of 5 by from So Cute This book was just a feel good book. It had some ups and downs, but it was mostly just cute (but not in an overly annoying way!). I love Sam and Jase and all the Garretts. If you liked Anna and the French Kiss/Lola and the Boy Next Door/ Isla and the Happily Ever After you'll love this book!!
Date published: 2017-04-16
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Absolutely adored this book!! This was such a nice summer read, I just could not put this book down!! I fell in live with the characters and plot!!
Date published: 2017-04-14
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Fun Summer Read Characters: cute Relationships: very cute Feels: yes Relatable: definitely! Pace: perfect! Boring parts: not really Worth the Read: perfect summer read!
Date published: 2017-04-14
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Loved this! I absolutely loved reading this book and would love to read it agin. I fell in love with the story and the characters.
Date published: 2017-03-26
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Great! I definitely LOVED this book and the story! The idea of a "next door" romance is just so exciting. I think the story dragged on for a little bit towards the middle/ending though, but that's okay.
Date published: 2017-03-15
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A Beautiful Love Story A beautiful, real, sweet, sad, love story that encompasses not just romantic love but all kinds of love. Also incredibly funny YA that doesn't write down to its target audience. #plumreview
Date published: 2017-03-04
Rated 5 out of 5 by from LOVE A realistic love story that's super adorable and meaningful to read about.
Date published: 2017-02-27
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Love This is probably one of my favourite romance novels I have read. I would definitely recommend this. The relationship between Jase and Samantha is to cute
Date published: 2017-02-21
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Very Cute I like to read cutsie love stories between my more intense books and this was the perfect choice. It was an easy, light-hearted read and I would read it again!
Date published: 2017-02-16
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Cutee It's a cute teenage love story. Not the best, but it's still really cute and I would read it in the summer time. That's the best time.
Date published: 2017-02-05
Rated 2 out of 5 by from A Contemporary Romance That Just Doesn't Hit Home The romance was pretty insignificant in the grand scheme of things, and the overall plot was fairly uninteresting.
Date published: 2017-01-16
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Cute Up until about 80%, it was a three-star book. Then, it suddenly was a four-star book, before falling flat in the final stretches. So, back to three stars, although I give them somewhat reluctantly.
Date published: 2017-01-16
Rated 2 out of 5 by from A Contemporary Summer Romance I didn't really become emotionally invested in this relationship or this story. The one dynamic that WAS interesting to look at was the mother-daughter relationship.
Date published: 2017-01-08
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Loved It! My Life Next Door was my first experience with a Huntley Fitzpatrick book, and it definitely wasn't my last. I really love how her books are never typical YA contemporaries, and are instead full of angst, betrayal, broken relationships, and lots of other real life issues. I loved Samantha and Jase's story; and this is definitely a highly recommend read from me.
Date published: 2017-01-06
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Perfection I've re-read this at least 12 times and I want to again!
Date published: 2016-12-29
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Decent This book is about... well it's a summer love story and kind of a finding yourself story. JUST REALLY UNINTERESTING. The main girl Samantha, comes from a wealthy family and goes to a private school. Her mother is a senator and campaigning for the upcoming election with a new boy toy who seems to influence her in ways Samantha has never seen. Samantha likes watching her neighbours from afar(a tad creepily). She meets one of the boys from the family and as you can imagine, it's a love story from then on. Complications emerge along the way of course, but I just didn't find myself engaged in the story.Overall this book was not great and definitely didn't wow me. I wouldn't not recommended it but I also wouldn't recommend it. I think there are better books to pick up and read, but this also isn't the worst.
Date published: 2016-12-08
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Good #Plumreview This book was very cute and a lot if fun #plumreview
Date published: 2016-12-05
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Cute contemporary book My Life Next Door by Huntley Fitzpatrick is about Samantha, a seventeen years old girl who lives in a very strict family where everything has to be clean and in its own place. Ten years ago, new neighboors moved into the house next door. The new neighboors are the Garretts: a chaotic and messy family of eight children where laughter and affection is omnipresent. Needless to say that Sam’s mother has always hated this family and it has always been prohibited for Sam and her sister to play with the Garretts. In spite of this interdiction, Sam likes to look at them from afar, until the time she gets close to Jase and becomes part of the family. This book is written in the point of view of Samantha, the main character. I have to say that I really liked her as a character even though sometimes I would not agree with certain things she would do. Yet, she stands up for her convictions and she is not scared of going through with them, especially by the end of the book, which I admire a lot about her. If I had to give only one reason to convince someone to read this book, it would be the Garretts. This family is just wonderful! They are full of life and loveable and they are all there for each others. But the cutest of the cutest is George, the four years old boy of the family. His dialogues with Sam are just the funniest thing ever and I laughed out loud a couple of times when reading them. The writing style was good and easy to read, nothing more, but it certainly did not lower the quality of the book. I would recommend this book to everyone who enjoys a good temporary read once in a while. I certainly want to check out the author’s other books.
Date published: 2016-12-04
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Amazing Book! I bought this book a while ago and honestly I am really happy that I did! This was the first book that I have read by Huntley Fitzpatrick and I really enjoyed reading it! I loved this book overall and it is a great book that has what everyone looks for in teen romance. This book is perfect not just for young adults and it will be sure to make you wanting to read more and smiling! :)
Date published: 2016-11-22
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great Read! I bought this book because both the cover and the title are really cute! This was the first novel of Fitzpatrick's that I have read and I really enjoyed it! This would be a great read if you like Kasie West, Jennifer E. Smith, and/or Morgan Matson!
Date published: 2016-11-12
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Really like it! This book has a borderline case of insta-love which is always irritating. But the main characters are pretty mature, or at the very least, more mature than most MCs in a lot of young adult fiction that I've read which was refreshing. The book wasn't all rainbows and unicorns. It gets a little darker towards the ending of the book and I didn't expect that at all going into the novel.
Date published: 2016-11-11
Rated 4 out of 5 by from feel good book This book is a light read but still had an interesting plot. It is very much a summer read or a book that can be read if you want to take a break between books.
Date published: 2016-11-07
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Lovely This book left me smiling :) A perfect lighthearted fun read with substance. The relationship of Samantha and Jase leaves readers swooning and dreaming. You can't help but smile while turning the pages. This story is production worthy. You'll smile, blush, and, and relate to this coming of age summer love story.
Date published: 2016-07-06
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Fabulous! I recently bought this book and devoured it! It has what everyone hopes for in a teen romance. Very well written. If your looking for a break from a series this is a great book.
Date published: 2016-05-09
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Loved this book YA romance will always be a bit cheesy, but I thought this book was very well written. One of my favourite quick-summer reads.
Date published: 2016-01-23
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Light and easy read. If you are currently in a reading slump, this book will definitely help you bounce back. It might not be the book of the century, but it's light and easy to get into the story. Personally I would take out a few chapters, I believe that it is unnecessarily long. But overall is a good read!
Date published: 2016-01-12
Rated 1 out of 5 by from Nooooooo :( This book pissed me off. When I finished it, I wanted to rant and rant about how awful I found it, but I will try to keep it short. It started out so promisingly. There was a witty line on every page to make me laugh. But then (SPOILERS COMING UP)... - Sam and Jase have insta-love - Jase is way too perfect to be a compelling love interest - Sam is too spineless to be a likable heroine: she knows her drunk mother injured Jase's father in a car accident, but she doesn't speak up. She loves Jase, but she doesn't speak up. That family has eight kids, but she doesn't speak up. She is silent on behalf of her bitchy politician mother, who shows her little love. Plus, her mother is rich and they have a small family. There is really no reason NOT to speak up. - Jase forgives Sam too easily at the end - Nan and Tim were unrealistic friends: Nan, for reasons unknown, doesn't want to be friends with Sam anymore, and Tim, a huge asshole, turns nice. What? Overall, a huge disappointment.
Date published: 2016-01-07
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Didn't live up to the hype I can't believe that I have waited nearly a month to review this book! For some reason, I just have not felt compelled to put my feelings about this book into words as of yet....maybe because I don't have a lot of feelings about this book. I expected it to be great. Everyone seems to love this book so I expected that I would love it just as much. I was very wrong. I didn't hate it but it was nothing special in my book. In fact, I would have most likely given the book a lower rating except I kind of enjoyed the last section of the story. I make no secret of the fact that I am most certainly NOT a teenager. In fact, I am the mother of a teenager (not to mention my older child that has already passed up her teenage years). Let's just say that I am kind of old. This is a book for teenagers. I read a lot of books for teenagers and love talking about them with my daughter but sometimes I just cannot relate. This is one of those times. The basic story is about a perfect little teenager girl, Samantha, who lives with her kind of crazy politician mother. Her mom is running for re-election so it is really important that everything remain perfect down to the perfect lines in the carpet after vacuuming (Do people actually worry about this stuff??? I am doing good just to turn the thing on and suck up the dog hair all over the floor.) Samantha has always spent a lot of time watching the family next door. Jase lives next door with his family, who happen to everything Samantha's family is not. They are loud, loving, and exciting and there are a lot of them. Jase is one of 8 kids in his family. Jase's family kind of took over the story at points. When Jase and Samantha start hanging out, they end up spending most of their time together at Jase's house. Eventually Samantha is pulled in enough to become a regular babysitter for the family. My daughter thought Jase was dreamy. I can't say that I share her opinion. Of course, old ladies are not supposed to think that teenage boys are dreamy. That is a rule. I actually found most of the book to be boring. Since I wasn't spending my time drooling over Jase, I wanted something to happen in the story. Nothing did for most of the book. I had to wait until the last 25% of the book for anything interesting to happen. Not cool. This book wasn't horrible. I didn't hate it and I thought it had some good points. I liked Tim a lot. He was interesting but that was because he was intoxicated for a large portion of the book and spoke without a filter most of the time. Samantha and Jase were okay main characters. The last 25% of the book were rather exciting. The book was easy to read and I like the flow of the novel. This is the first book by Huntley Fitzpatrick that I have read and I plan to read other book in the future. I actually already have the next book in this series ready to go, but only because the main character is Tim. I like Tim a lot so I am hopeful that his book will work for me a little better.
Date published: 2015-08-29
Rated 4 out of 5 by from A Nice Story I enjoyed this book, it was easy and cute. There was romance and some interesting plot. I think it would be a good summer read, I had fun reading this.
Date published: 2015-05-20
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Such cute family dynamics The family dynamics between the Garretts and the Reeds are like night and day. I'm just in love with the Garretts and their family relationships. Though it's not perfect, I pretty much love how loving the parents are. Each and every single family member were just so wonderful. I love reading about them the most. Each person felt like they were a real live person. While reading this I felt like I was watching a movie, a comedy of course. Ever had one of those amazing reads where the characters personalities just leap off the pages? This is that book. I'm just in love with the Garretts. Especially George.. He is too hilarious. I loved him so much. Even though there isn't much of a story-line, just the daily life of Samantha and her babysitting job with the Garretts, I still felt like I was this outsider looking in. This is how much love I could feel for their families. So cute! Overall, I would have given this a three out of five if weren't for my love of the Garretts. They're worth reading about the most.
Date published: 2015-01-16
Rated 5 out of 5 by from My life next door Teen romance, fab easy reading
Date published: 2014-10-07
Rated 5 out of 5 by from My Life Next Door Prime example of how people should not judge a book by its cover. I loved this book. Glad in the end Sams mom seen the light
Date published: 2014-04-29
Rated 5 out of 5 by from My Life Next Door The perfect Y.A novel. A must read for so many teenagers. For every book, there is always that one person who says "I just couldn't put it down!" But honestly. I just couldn't put this book down! It instantly became my favourite book and I've reread it 5 times in the span of one month. Huntley Fitzpatrick, brings her characters to life. You feel like you slip into Samantha's life, experiencing her connection with Jase, with Tim, with her mom, so many people in this story hit close to home. You find yourself falling in love with the Garrets, laughing and smirking throughout the whole book. Plus, it is insanely hilarious--definitely teen humor. Read this book, you won't regret it. I promise you.
Date published: 2014-01-23
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Loved it! I too thought this book would be just as casual read. It certainly was more than that. I couldn't put it down. There was so much more to it then expected. The characters were great as well. Loved everything about this book.
Date published: 2014-01-12
Rated 5 out of 5 by from loved it! I bought this book thinking it would be a casual read… it was MUCH more. I loved this book, the characters are very intriguing and the story line was very good. I especially loved the love between Jace and samantha and made me so happy. I couldn't put it down!!
Date published: 2013-12-08
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Nice I loved it(:
Date published: 2013-11-08
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Is there a sequel? Because it sure feels like there should be! Great story though.
Date published: 2013-11-04
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Love it Nothing I didn't like
Date published: 2013-10-21
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Good Good story, cute
Date published: 2013-09-18
Rated 4 out of 5 by from My life next door Funny, sad, lot of emotions, But the ending kinda sucked..
Date published: 2013-08-08
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Really Great I have been wanting to read this book for a while now and I knew I would like it, I was really surprised by the story, there was so much to it then I thought there would be, so many different layers you don't expect. I thought the characters were so solid and the story very entertaining to read. This book had everything you need for a solid book. Check it out. :0)
Date published: 2013-08-08
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Really, Really, REALLY Good! My Life Next Door is a great teen read. Although there are some things I dont like about it, this book is still strong and different. Its influential, and i think many can relate to the characters-all the characters. Its impacting and meaningful with moments full of humor but also deeper ones, moments that'll have you wanting to read on and on. Sam has spent countless hours gazing out her window and at her neighbours house, where the Garretts live. Interesting, messy, and busy, the Garretts' household of ten is everything that Sam's family is not. Sam loves with her mother and sister in a quiet,reserved, organized and planned household. When your mom is running for Senator, things tend to be that way, and Sam's mom has always oledged to stay away from the house next door. Sam has always wondered about the Garretts, and one day, when Jase, the third oldest of the kids, comes into her life, Sam is intrigued, and doesnt just allow him to, she invites him into her perfect world. But when she starts really liking this boy, and develops a relationship with him she finds herself in the Garritts house more then her own. And she likes it. But thigs get out of hand when her and Jase statt becoming more serious and her mother becomes involved with a man, working her hardest to win over the votes of everyone in the state. She doesnt approve of Sams relationship, and one night, Sam's perfect world comes crashing down, and shes forced to face the reality that her life is anything but perfect. Well. My Life Next Door is... really, really, REALLY good. Like, awesome. But lets start with the bad: I struggled with rating this book and settled on 4 stars, because as much as I love this book, i wouldnt read it again. Theres no WOW factor to it. Sam is a good character but at times i found myself being annoyed by her. In the end though, she grows and i do end up liking her and enjoying her as a narrator. Speaking of the end, i didnt love it. Sure, overall, i like it. But i feel like Fitzpatricl should have given us more, um, information about the Garritts, not to mention Nan. Fitzpatrick leaves things off on an uncertain note, and i feel like theres no real final ending. No closure. For the details and other elements. The main, ugh, thing - yeah, i understand what happens and i like it, but everything else inbetween, not so much. (I'm trying not to give anything away, but i realize i may be misleading some. So, dont pay attention and look for hidden meanings, cuz you may take everything i have told you the wrong way) But there are many things i did like. Tim, for one, is great. At first i wasnt loving him, but seriously, who wouldnt love him after everything? And there's the Garritts. Jase is awesome, but, honestly, i have a soft spot for George. SO adorable! I hate Sam's mom but shes great, you know? (Well maybe not, if you havent read this book yet but, whatever...) Clay, Sam's mom's boytoy - well, he sucks. Again, there wouldnt be a story without him. So hes good. The romance. Awesome. The writing. Simple but intriguing. I kept wanting to read and read... and read. My Life Next Door isn't really predictable, its not cliche or cheesy, but it has a simplicity that is really great. Oddly enough, this reminded me of Sarah Dessen. The writing, some characters, the meaningful yet not really overly deep themes. Very Dessen-like. But Dessen is more soft, and Fitzpatrick is more lively and adds something to a book, something thags not like Sarah Dessen. Also, hate to say it but its true, and hate to compare but i have to - Dessen can be really slow, adding tons of details. This isnt a slow book, and it has something in it that will make you just keep reading. So, My Life Next Door is very awesome. Its sweet and touching but its fun and uplifting... at times. But, overall, its very good and has great characters that are all unique and different, and i definitely recomment it. Completely. 100%. I wasnt too impressed, but i still REALLY enjoyed reading Sam's story. Really, really, REALLY good!
Date published: 2013-07-31
Rated 5 out of 5 by from My Life Next Door Best summer book ever ! Better than a movie its so funny & sad ! Makes me want have a big family with a zillion of kids !:) Jase & Sam relationship is so real & rare its soooooo cute
Date published: 2013-07-23
Rated 4 out of 5 by from My Life Next Door What a great book. I felt so much for the characters and that is when I know I am reading a good book.
Date published: 2013-06-12
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Awesome ! Couldn't put it down ! Great teen love story :) almost reminded me of Sarah Dessen !
Date published: 2013-06-02
Rated 5 out of 5 by from AMAZING! AMAZING! AMAZING! It's been a long time since I've picked up a book and became so quickly pulled into the story and the characters like I have with this book. And not only pulled in, but I've essentially become entranced by these characters. I lived and breathed them for the very few days it took me to read the story. And I was so incredibly sad to see it come to an end. As all of you know by this point, I am a contemporary reader. I love contemporary YA literature. it is my go-to genre whenever I'm feeling a bit down or just need a bit of innocent insight to life. There is just something about the innocence of a teenage voice that makes me deeply relate to their struggles no mater what it is they are going through. Samantha's voice is no exception. “I lie on top of him, skin to skin. He's tall, I'm not, but when we lie like this, we fit together. All the curves of my body relax into the strength of his.” Samantha Reed and Jase Garrett are, hands down, the most refreshing couple I've read in years! They have a maturity to them that is really appealing AND their love is pure. There is no angst, no jealousy, and they are smart. They THINK things through and don't just act instantly on their hormones. But trust me, their hormones are certainly trying to take the front seat! You would think that a lack of teenaged angst would prove to be unrealistic in a coming of age tale, but the author has developed these characters so thoroughly that it comes across very real. I know that not everyone had such a patient, kind, and loving first love in their past. For most, it is a fantasy that has never been fulfilled. But for me, Jase is EXACTLY my first love and reading this tale brought so many happy memories to light. Even if you've never had a Jase in your past though, you will appreciate him deeply. You won't be able to NOT fall in love with him. Now, about the rest of the story. Cause believe it or not, this book isn't just a beautiful love story, it is also a tale of family, acceptance, and the tortured idea of doing the right thing even if it's going to hurt the people you love. You will laugh and you will cry, and I garante you will not walk away unsatisfied. “I sit up, edge over close to my window, and push it open, slipping one leg in, then the next, turning back to Jase. “Come on.” His smile flashes in the gathering dark as his eyebrows lift, but he climbs carefully in as I lock my bedroom door. “Be still,” I tell him. “Now I’m going to learn all about you.” This is romance in it's purest form! I aplaude Huntley Fitzpatrick's debut novel and cannot wait to read her next tale!
Date published: 2013-01-23
Rated 5 out of 5 by from One of My New Fave YA Contemporary Novels! Huntley Fitzpatrick's debut novel, My Life Next Door, captures a summer of self-discovery, changing friendships, first love, and difficult decisions. As soon as I finished reading it, I was already considering the book to be one of my favourite YA contemporary novels released this year! On the outside, everything about Samantha Reed seems perfect, but under the surface, she feels stuck in the routine of her life. Her older sister is moving on with her future and spending the summer away with her boyfriend, and her career-driven mother is often away from home, working with her new campaign manager. Throughout the novel, Samantha truly grows as a character though. She may have once been content to always follow her mother's rules without question, but she begins to make her own decisions and tries to make her realize that she's not a little girl anymore. The Garretts are everything Samantha's family is not; they're loud, chaotic, and openly affectionate with each other. Her mother may not approve of their large family, but they're genuinely good people. They're a close-knit unit, and when Jase and Samantha being dating, they embrace her with open arms and warm hearts. It's when Samantha is among the Garrett family that she finally feels comfortable in her own skin – she's not expected to be the perfect daughter that her mother wants her to be. I honestly think I fell for Jase Garrett the very first moment he decided to climb up Samantha's trellis and formally introduce himself. He's incredibly sweet, funny, attentive... and positively swoon-worthy! Jase may not live a rich lifestyle like Samantha, but he wouldn't trade any of his family members for anything. His younger siblings, especially George, were also adorable and made me laugh! My Life Next Door is perfect for readers who are unwilling to let summer escape from their grasps, and I have no doubt I shall be reading it again and again in the future. I'm definitely eagerly awaiting Huntley Fitzpatrick's next YA novel! You can also read this review at: http://midnightbloomreads.blogspot.ca/2012/11/my-life-next-door-by-huntley-fitzpatrick.html
Date published: 2012-11-29
Rated 5 out of 5 by from One of the best YA contemps I've ever read My Life Next Door by Huntley Fitzpatrick is one of many amazing debut novels of 2012, and in my opinion, one of the best YA contemporaries of the year. This book made me feel so much - I fell in love, I laughed, I cried, I swooned, it made my heart ache, and it made me happy and angry and everything in between. It was sweet, funny, sexy, romantic, and real. I really connected with Samantha. I felt everything she felt - the disappointment, uncertainty, love, hurt, anger. She was such a great character - so genuine and relatable. And I absolutely adored Jase. He was so calm and unflappable and he really saw Samantha when so many other people - including her own family - overlooked her and took her for granted. I admired his love and loyalty to his family, and his willingness to do anything for them. The Garretts were the best thing to ever happen to Samantha - she fit in with them, and they loved her, accepted her, and needed her. Besides Samantha and Jase - who are easily two of my favourite characters ever - the secondary characters really made this book, whether you loved them or they made your blood boil. Jase’s siblings were great, especially George and Patsy, the youngest two. They were absolutely hilarious, and whenever they were in a scene, I was laughing out loud. Although Nan, Samantha’s ‘best friend’ made me really angry, I loved Nan's brother Tim. He was proof that sometimes screwed up people just need a second (or third, or fourth, or fifth) chance to get things right. I loved that he really came through for not only Samantha, but also for Jase and the Garretts after a rocky beginning, and a stretch of being a not-so-great friend. He’s someone I’d love to see more of…maybe in a companion novel? *hint hint Ms Fitzpatrick!* ;-) I disliked Sam’s mother from the beginning - she was such a hypocrite, claiming in her political campaign that family was the most important thing, and yet she neglected and mistreated her own family. I literally felt my blood pressure rising through the last quarter or so of the book when things got really bad with her mom. I’m a slow reader, but I was zooming through the pages, hardly able to turn them fast enough to see what happened next. I couldn’t imagine how it was going to resolve, and I loved that added tension and depth. My Life Next Door isn’t just about romance. It’s about friendship, family, loyalty, second chances, truth, and life. Lovable characters, a great plot and subplots, a swoonworthy romance, and excellent writing make this book a must-read for fans of contemporary young adult fiction.
Date published: 2012-11-06
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Fantastic book, gripped me from the first page. Beautifully written. Funny. Sweet. My Life Next Door was a book I didn't want to put down. I cannot wait for a sequel *hint hint, Tim's story*
Date published: 2012-09-16
Rated 5 out of 5 by from My Favorite of 2012 So Far More reviews at: www.eyesonthepages.blogspot.ca Let me start by absolutely gushing about how phenomenal this book is. Sam is an awesome girl and completely relate-able. Joel is just the most perfect, understandable, honest and cutest person anyone could ever dream of having. And George. Ohmygoodness, George. George is a marvelous character. I cannot express my fondness of him within this review. He is so cute and so innocent and so awesome that he alone nearly makes the book. And Patsy! Cute little Patsy! I loved her one-liners, she was so adorable for a little baby and I couldn't help but laugh with her whenever she got a big grin on her face. Now, when I dove into this book, I expected it to be a cute, fun, light kind of read. But holy crap, it was SO much more than that! My Life Next Door is just full of really tough choices and family and friendship and absolutely everything that relates to the life of a teen trying to figure herself out. This book is truly, truly a beautiful thing. I could keep going, but I'm just going to end up spouting out more gushy reasons why I am absolutely in love with this book. If you haven't read it yet, I would definitely do so right this second. It's worth the twenty dollars it costs in hardcover edition.
Date published: 2012-07-24
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Awesom, Would read it over and over This book was a great read I would definitely read it again, the characters were great, the only think I did not like was the part that the author left an unresolved conflict with Samantha's best friend Nan. There was never something boring it was so entertaining I found it difficult to put down. The characters were clearly developed and they were introduced in a way that could be appreciated and also the romance between Sam and Jase was not instant but instead gradual. The book was great I would definitely recommend it to someone looking for a quick summer read the only difficulty is finding something to read after
Date published: 2012-07-12
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Review from Esther's Ever After I've already mentioned this to a few people, but My Life Next Door is TOTALLY reminiscent of Sarah Dessen's The Truth About Forever - which is not only my favourite Sarah Dessen book (seriously, I'm such a fangirl) but one of my favourite books of ALL TIME. So just picture my epic excitement when I pick up this highly anticipated new contemporary YA release only to discover that it completely reminds me of one of my FAVOURITE books. But yet still different enough to stand all on its own. My Life Next Door is one of those perfect summer reads that will leave you itching for a reread as soon you've finished it. Reasons to Read 1.One of the best, most realistic romances I've ever read: Huntley Fitzpatrick seriously blew me out of the water with her portrayal of Jase and Sam's relationship; I LOVE that we don't spend hundreds of pages agonizing over whether they'll get together or not. I adore how strong and trusting and open they are with each other; they really want to build on a strong foundation for their relationship, and they put effort into figuring things out and trying to work together. It's beautiful and flawed but so real, and something that many people could actually aspire to. And Jase is just such a sweetheart- so reasonable and thoughtful, and Sam is so quietly strong and brave in her own way. They just MESH and I love them. And I think you will too! 2.Plus, that romance? SA-WOON: (If you don't get that reference, you really need to read The Truth About Forever ASAP.) I hesitated making TWO of the reasons worth reading this about the romance, but Huntley does steamy well - yet still kind of awkward and sweet, all rolled into one. 3.A gorgeous story about growing up: Here's what's really key about the book though, is how much Sam changes and develops over the course of the novel. Much like Macy (in Truth About Forever), Sam is perfectly put together, organized, driven, and lives directly under her mother's thumb. But of course this isn't enough and she's longing for something more. So something has to change, something eventually has to give and conveniently enough, the Garrets next door are complete opposite from her own family. Sam learns so much about growing up and what happiness and love means - and not easily, either, mind you. They're hard lessons for her and those around her to learn but it's incredibly touching & ultimately, unforgettable. Most importantly though, is this idea of acceptance and appreciating or tolerating something different from your own norms. And how poignant that theme is - and at such the right time as well. The Garretts and the Reeds are completely different - but as Sam learns, that isn't necessarily a bad thing. My Life Next Door doesn't QUITE hold the same charm that The Truth About Forever does, perhaps partially because of nostalgia on my part and partially because I think some of the secondary characters could have been fleshed out a bit more. And I wasn't entirely sure about how I felt with the conclusion; in some areas, I thought it was just right and ideal, but in others it didn't feel quite whole and rather unresolved. But this is a remarkable contemporary, a perfect summer read of change and transition that is sure to be loved by many readers for a very long time. 3 Sam and Jase's feelings are utterly contagious, much like the rest of this book! E-galley received from publisher for review.
Date published: 2012-07-05
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Officially One of the Best Books!! I think I fell in love with this book! The entire story stole my heart from beginning to end! It shows that love can win in any circumstances! This is the BEST contemporary's I have read this year. The characters are easy to connect with and we all go through this stage. I loved the plot, characters, the romance between Sam and Jase. I was very excited to read this book when I first saw the cover because it really one of my top favorite covers that I could stare at all day. My Life Next Door was dramatic with its ups and downs and left me wanting more of Sam & Jase's story. This is the perfect summer read! Its a definite re-read! Throughout the entire novel which is told from Samantha's 's point of view, which was really well written. I loved how she described this summer and to even finally meet her HOT next door neighbor Jase and his big family which consists of altogether 8 children + 2 parents. I loved their family dynamic because sometimes it would sound like my family but with 4 less kids. From the first moment we meet Jase Garrett is the falling in love moment because he is handsome and would do anything with Samantha. It was adorable reading about them and the progress of their relationship throughout the entire book with their ups and downs. Jase is down to earth, friendly, protective, loves animals and sexy in his own way! The Garrett family is one everyone can connect with because many families now a days have big families. I loved all the children! George was soo cute!! Sam is very independent and doesn't rely on her mother for anything in the book, until near the end. I found Sam mother to be stuck up and her initial reaction of when the Garrett's first move in 10 years ago still is there. Compared to Sam who used to look out her window and want to be a part of the craziness. Compared to her family which consists of her sister Tracy and her mom. We also see Samantha's moms boyfriend Clay who also is in the novel. It was up to date with all the events that were going on during the summer it takes place and the scene was perfect to imagine. I was on the edge during some of the book and it was worth it because it is a AWESOME book!! Huntley Fitzpatrick is one talented writer who knows how to create a memorable book for young adults because this one is the perfect read. The plot was great, it was never boring and I loved how Huntley shows that beginning of Samantha's and Jase relationship, there isn't the insta-love, it developed at a normal pace which every couple does grow through. It was romantic how Jase and Samantha fell in love. Their relationship allows us to see also the changes that come along the way once Samantha meets Jase, he has opened up the world to her. As the obstacles come into place Samantha and Jase's relationship is tested at the hardest times. It was emotional at times but I was rooting for these two to come together. These two are soo cute!! As rating the novel there is not many swearing and there is a little sexuality (not graphic) and some other things that teenagers do on weekends. I love the writing! Huntley is by far up on the list of favorite writers, she is soo sweet and friendly, I would love to meet her. My Life Next Door is brilliant and I know its one book that I will re-read over and over again!! I am looking forward to Huntley's future books. I recommend this book to anyone!! I was very happy with the end. Characters were amazing and the plot was very well developed! With this book you can read it in one day. Perfect summer read and you will also love this book! Be sure to buy this one!!
Date published: 2012-06-18

Read from the Book

MYLIFENEXTDOORby Huntley FitzpatrickDIAL BOOKSan imprint of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.Table of ContentsChapter OneThe Garretts were forbidden from the start.But that’s not why they were important.We were standing in our yard that day ten years ago when their battered sedan pulled up to the low-slung shingled house next door, close behind the moving van.“Oh no,” Mom sighed, arms falling to her sides. “I hoped we could have avoided this.”“This—what?” my big sister called from down the driveway. She was eight and already restless with Mom’s chore of the day, planting jonquil bulbs in our front garden. Walking quickly to the picket fence that divided our house from the one next door, she perched on her tiptoes to peer at the new neighbors. I pressed my face to the gap in the slats, watching in amazement as two parents and five children spilled from the sedan, like a clown car at the circus.“This kind of thing.” Mom gestured toward the car with the trowel, twisting her silvery blond hair into a coil with the other hand. “There’s one in every neighborhood. The family that never mows their lawn. Has toys scattered everywhere. The ones who never plant flowers, or do and let them die. The messy family who lowers real estate values. Here they are. Right next door. You’ve got that bulb wrong side up, Samantha.”I switched the bulb around, scooting my knees in the dirt to get closer to the fence, my eyes never leaving the father as he swung a baby from a car seat while a curly-haired toddler climbed his back. “They look nice,” I said.I remember there was a silence then, and I looked up at my mother.She was shaking her head at me, a strange expression on her face. “Nice isn’t the point here, Samantha. You’re seven years old. You need to understand what’s important. Five children. Good God. Just like your father’s family. Insanity.” She shook her head again, rolling her eyes heavenward.I moved closer to Tracy and edged a fleck of white paint off the fence with my thumbnail. My sister looked at me with the same warning face she used when she was watching TV and I walked up to ask her a question.“He’s cute,” she said, squinting over the fence again. I looked over to see an older boy unfold himself from the back of the car, baseball mitt in hand, reaching back to haul out a cardboard box full of sports gear.Even then, Tracy liked to deflect, to forget how hard our mother found being a parent. Our dad had walked away without even a good-bye, leaving Mom with a one-year-old, a baby on the way, a lot of disillusionment, and, luckily, her trust fund from her parents.As the years proved, our new neighbors, the Garretts, were exactly what Mom predicted. Their lawn got mowed sporadically at best. Their Christmas lights stayed hung till Easter. Their backyard was a hodgepodge of an in-ground pool and a trampoline and a swing set and monkey bars. Periodically, Mrs. Garrett would make an effort to plant something seasonal, chrysanthemums in September, impatiens in June, only to leave it to gasp and wither away as she tended to something more important, like her five children. They became eight children over the years. All approximately three years apart.“My unsafe zone,” I overheard Mrs. Garrett explain one day at the supermarket when Mrs. Mason commented on her burgeoning belly, “is twenty-two months. That’s when they suddenly aren’t babies anymore. I love babies so much.”Mrs. Mason had raised her eyebrows and smiled, then turned away with compressed lips and a baffled shake of her head.But Mrs. Garrett seemed to ignore it, happy in herself and content with her chaotic family. Five boys and three girls by the time I turned seventeen.Joel, Alice, Jase, Andy, Duff, Harry, George, and Patsy.In the ten years since the Garretts moved next door, Mom hardly ever looked out the side windows of our house without huffing an impatient breath. Too many kids on the trampoline. Bikes abandoned on the lawn. Another pink or blue balloon tied to the mailbox, waving haphazardly in the breeze. Loud basketball games. Music blaring while Alice and her friends tanned. The bigger boys washing cars and spraying each other with hoses. If not those, it was Mrs. Garrett, calmly breast-feeding on the front steps, or sitting there on Mr. Garrett’s lap, for all the world to see.“It’s indecent,” Mom would say, watching.“It’s legal,” Tracy, future lawyer, always countered, flipping back her platinum hair. She’d station herself next to Mom, inspecting the Garretts out the big side window of the kitchen. “The courts have made it absolutely legal to breast-feed wherever you want. Her own front steps are definitely fair game.”“But why? Why do it at all when there are bottles and formula? And if you must, why not inside?”“She’s watching the other kids, Mom. It’s what she’s supposed to do,” I’d sometimes point out, making my stand next to Tracy.Mom would sigh, shake her head, and extract the vacuum cleaner from the closet as if it were a Valium. The lullaby of my childhood was my mom running the vacuum cleaner, making perfectly symmetrical lines in our beige living room carpet. The lines somehow seemed important to her, so essential that she’d turn on the machine as Tracy and I were eating breakfast, then slowly follow us to the door as we pulled on our coats and backpacks. Then she’d back up, eliminating our trail of footprints, and her own, until we were outside. Finally, she’d rest the vacuum cleaner carefully behind one of our porch columns only to drag it back in that night when she got home from work.It was clear from the start that we were not to play with the Garretts. After bringing over the obligatory “welcome to the neighborhood” lasagna, my mother did her best to be very unwelcoming. She responded to Mrs. Garrett’s smiling greetings with cool nods. She rebuffed Mr. Garrett’s offers to mow, sweep up leaves, or shovel snow with a terse “We have a service, thanks all the same.”Finally, the Garretts stopped trying.Though they lived right next door and one kid or another might pedal past me as I watered Mom’s flowers, it was easy not to run into them. Their kids went to the local public schools. Tracy and I attended Hodges, the only private school in our small Connecticut town.One thing my mother never knew, and would disapprove of most of all, was that I watched the Garretts. All the time.Outside my bedroom window, there’s a small flat section of the roof with a tiny fence around it. Not really a balcony, more like a ledge. It’s in between two peaked gables, shielded from both the front and backyard, and it faces the right side of the Garretts’ house. Even before they came, it was my place to sit and think. But afterward, it was my place to dream.I’d climb out after bedtime, look through the lit windows, and see Mrs. Garrett doing the dishes, one of the younger kids sitting on the counter next to her. Or Mr. Garrett wrestling with the older boys in the living room. Or the lights going on where the baby must sleep, the figure of Mr. or Mrs. Garrett pacing back and forth, rubbing a tiny back. It was like watching a silent movie, one so different from the life I lived.Over the years, I got more daring. I’d sometimes watch during the day, after school, hunched back against the side of the rough gable, trying to figure out which Garrett matched each name I heard called out the screen door. It was tricky because they all had wavy brown hair, olive skin, and sinewy builds, like a breed all their own.Joel was the easiest to identify—the oldest and the most athletic. His picture often appeared in local papers for various sports accomplishments—I knew it in black and white. Alice, next in line, dyed her hair outlandish colors and wore clothes that provoked commentary from Mrs. Garrett, so I had her down as well. George and Patsy were the littlest ones. The middle three boys, Jase, Duff, and Harry…I couldn’t get them straight. I was pretty sure that Jase was the oldest of the three, but did that mean he was the tallest? Duff was supposed to be the smart one, competing in various chess competitions and spelling bees, but he didn’t wear glasses or give off any obvious brainiac signals. Harry was constantly in trouble—“Harry! How could you?” was the refrain. And Andy, the middle girl, always seemed to be missing, her name called longest to come to the dinner table or pile into the car: “Annnnnnnnndeeeeeeeeee!”From my hidden perch, I’d peer out at the yard, trying to locate Andy, figure out Harry’s latest escapade, or see what outrageous outfit Alice was wearing. The Garretts were my bedtime story, long before I ever thought I’d be part of the story myself.Chapter TwoOn the first sweltering hot night in June, I’m home alone, trying to enjoy the quiet but finding myself moving from room to room, unable to settle.Tracy’s out with Flip, yet another blond tennis player in her unending series of boyfriends. I can’t reach my best friend, Nan, who’s been completely distracted by her boyfriend, Daniel, since school ended last week and he graduated. There’s nothing on TV I want to see, no place in town I feel like going. I’ve tried sitting out on the porch, but at low tide the humid air is overpowering, muddy-scented from the breeze off the river.So I’m sitting in our vaulted living room, crunching the ice left over from my seltzer, skimming through Tracy’s stack of In Touch magazines. Suddenly I hear a loud, continuous buzzing sound. As it goes on and on I look around, alarmed, trying to identify it. The dryer? The smoke detector? Finally, I realize it’s the doorbell, buzzing and buzzing, on and on and on. I hurry to open the door, expecting—sigh—one of Tracy’s exes, daring after too many strawberry daiquiris at the country club, come to win her back.Instead, I see my mother, pressed against the doorbell, getting the daylights kissed out of her by some man. When I throw the door open, they half stumble, then he braces his hand on the jamb and just keeps kissing away. So I stand there, feeling stupid, arms folded, my thin nightgown shifting slightly in the thick air. All around me are summer voices. The lap of the shore far away, the roar of a motorcycle coming up the street, the shhhh of the wind in the dogwood trees. None of those, and certainly not my presence, stop my mom or this guy. Not even when the motorcycle backfires as it peels into the Garretts’ driveway, which usually drives Mom crazy.Finally, they come up for air, and she turns to me with an awkward laugh.“Samantha. Goodness! You startled me.”She’s flustered, her voice high and girlish. Not the authoritative “this is how it will be” voice she typically uses at home or the syrup-mixed-with-steel one she wields on the job.Five years ago, Mom went into politics. Tracy and I didn’t take it seriously at first—we’d hardly known Mom to vote. But she came home one day from a rally charged up and determined to be state senator. She ran, and she won, and our lives changed entirely.We were proud of her. Of course we were. But instead of making breakfast and sifting through our book bags to be sure our homework was done, Mom left home at five o’clock in the morning and headed to Hartford “before the traffic kicks in.” She stayed late for commissions and special sessions. Weekends weren’t about Tracy’s gymnastics practices or my swim meets. They were for boning up on upcoming votes, staying for special sessions, or attending local events. Tracy pulled every bad-teenager trick in the book. She played with drugs and drinking, she shoplifted, she slept with too many boys. I read piles of books, registered Democratic in my mind (Mom’s Republican), and spent more time than usual watching the Garretts.So now tonight, I stand here, stunned into immobility by the unexpected and prolonged PDA, until Mom finally lets go of the guy. He turns to me and I gasp.After a man leaves you, pregnant and with a toddler, you don’t keep his picture on the mantel. We have only a few photographs of our dad, and they’re all in Tracy’s room. Still I recognize him—the curve of his jaw, the dimples, the shiny wheat-blond hair and broad shoulders. This man has all those things.“Dad?”Mom’s expression morphs from dreamy bedazzlement to utter shock, as though I’ve cursed.The guy shifts away from Mom, extends his hand to me. As he moves into the light of the living room, I realize he’s much younger than my father would be now. “Hi there, darlin’. I’m the newest—and most enthusiastic—member of your mom’s reelection campaign.”Enthusiastic? I’ll say.He takes my hand and shakes it, seemingly without my participation.“This is Clay Tucker,” Mom says, in the reverent tone one might use for Vincent van Gogh or Abraham Lincoln. She turns and gives me a reproving look, no doubt for the “Dad” comment, but quickly recovers. “Clay’s worked on national campaigns. I’m very lucky he’s agreed to help me out.”In what capacity? I wonder as she fluffs her hair in a gesture that can’t possibly be anything but flirtatious. Mom?“So, Clay,” she continues. “I told you Samantha was a big girl.”I blink. I’m five two. In heels. “Big girl” is a stretch. Then I get it. She means old. Old for someone as young as her to have.“Clay was mighty surprised to find I had a teenager.” My mother tucks a wayward strand of newly fluffed hair behind her ear. “He says I look like one myself.”I wonder if she’s mentioned Tracy, or if she’s going to keep her on the down-low for a while.“You’re as beautiful as your mother,” he says to me, “so now I believe it.” He has the kind of Southern accent that makes you think of melting butter on biscuits, and porch swings.Clay looks around the living room. “What a terrific room,” he says. “Just invites a man to put his feet up after a long hard day.” Mom beams. She’s proud of our house, renovates rooms all the time, tweaking the already perfect. He walks around slowly, examining the gigantic paintings of landscapes on the white, white walls, taking in the so-puffy-you-can’t-sit-on-it beige couch and the immense armchairs, finally settling into the one in front of the fireplace. I’m shocked. I check Mom’s face. Her dates always stop at the door. In fact, she’s barely dated at all.But Mom doesn’t do her usual thing, glance at her watch, say, “Oh, goodness, look at the time,” and politely shove him out the door. Instead, she gives that little girlish laugh again, toys with a pearl earring, and says, “I’ll just make coffee.”She whirls toward the kitchen, but before she can take a step, Clay Tucker comes up to me, putting his hand on my shoulder. “Seems to me,” he says, “you’re the kind of girl who’d make the coffee herself and let her mama relax.”My face heats and I take an involuntary step back. Fact is, I usually do make tea for Mom when she comes in late. It’s sort of a ritual. But no one has ever told me to do it. Part of me thinks I must have misheard. I met this guy, like, two seconds ago. The other part instantly feels chagrined, the way I do at school when I’ve forgotten to do the extra credit math problem, or at home when I shove my newly laundered clothes into a drawer unfolded. I stand there, struggling for a response, and come up blank. Finally I nod, turn, and go to the kitchen.As I measure out coffee grounds, I can hear murmurs and low laughter coming from the living room. Who is this guy? Has Tracy met him? Guess not, if I’m the big girl. And anyway, Tracy’s been off cheering Flip on at his tennis matches since they graduated last week. The rest of the time, they’re parked in his convertible in our driveway, bucket seats down, while Mom’s still at work.“Coffee ready yet, sweetie?” Mom calls. “Clay here could use a pick-me-up. He’s been working like a hound dog helping me out.”Hound dog? I pour freshly brewed coffee into cups, put them on a tray, find cream, sugar, napkins, and stalk back into the living room.“That’s fine for me, sweetheart, but Clay takes his in a big ol’ mug. Right, Clay?”“That’s right,” he says with a broad smile, holding the teacup out to me. “The biggest you got, Samantha. I run on caffeine. It’s a weakness.” He winks.Returning from the kitchen a second time, I plunk the mug down in front of Clay. Mom says, “You’re going to love Samantha, Clay. Such a smart girl. This past year she took all AP classes. A pluses in every one. She was on the yearbook staff, the school newspaper, used to be on the swim team…A star, my girl.” Mom gives me her real smile, the one that goes all the way to her eyes. I start to smile back.“Like mother, like daughter,” Clay says, and my mom’s eyes slide back to his face and stay there, transfixed. They exchange a private look and Mom goes over and perches on the armrest of his chair. I wonder for a second if I’m still in the room. Clearly, I’m dismissed. Fine. I’m saved from the distinct possibility I’ll lose control and pour Clay’s still-hot coffee from his big ol’ mug onto his lap. Or pour something really cold on Mom.Pick up, pick up, I beg the other end of the phone. Finally there’s a click, but it’s not Nan. It’s Tim. “Mason residence,” he says. “If you’re Daniel, Nan’s out with another guy. With a bigger dick.”“I’m not Daniel,” I tell him. “But is she really? The out part?”“Nah, of course not. Nan? She’s lucky she’s got Daniel, and that’s pretty fucking sad.”“Where is she?”“Around somewhere,” Tim offers helpfully. “I’m in my room. Have you ever wondered what purpose the hair on your toes serves?”Tim’s stoned. As usual. I close my eyes. “Can I speak to her now?”Tim says he’ll get her, but ten minutes later I’m still waiting. He probably forgot he’d even answered the phone.I hang up and lie on my bed for a moment, staring at the ceiling fan. Then I open my window and climb out.As usual, most of the lights are on at the Garretts’. Including the ones in the driveway, where Alice, some of her underdressed friends, and a few of the Garrett boys are playing basketball. There may be some boyfriends thrown in there too. It’s hard to tell, they’re all jumping around so much, music cranked loud on the iPod speakers perched on the front steps.I’m no good at basketball, but it looks like fun. I peer in the living room window and see Mr. and Mrs. Garrett. She’s leaning on the back of his chair, arms folded, looking down at him while he points out something in a magazine. The light in their bedroom, where the baby sleeps, is still on, even though it’s so late. I wonder if Patsy’s afraid of the dark.Then suddenly, I hear a voice, right near me. Right below me.“Hey.”Startled, I almost lose my balance. Then I feel a steadying hand on my ankle and hear a rustling sound, as someone, some guy, climbs up the trellis and onto the roof, my own secret place.“Hey,” he says again, sitting down next to me as though he knows me well. “Need rescuing?”Chapter ThreeI stare at this boy. He’s obviously a Garrett, and not Joel, but which one? Up close, in the light spilling from my bedroom, he looks different from most of the Garretts—rangier, leaner, his wavy hair a lighter brown, already with those streaks of blond some brunettes get in the summer.“Why would I need rescuing? This is my house, my roof.”“I don’t know. It just hit me, seeing you there, that you might be Rapunzel. The princess in the tower thing. All that long blond hair and…well…”“And you’d be?” I know I’m going to laugh if he says “the prince.”Instead he answers “Jase Garrett,” reaching for my hand to shake it, as though we’re at a college interview rather than randomly sitting together on my roof at night.“Samantha Reed.” I settle my hand into his, automatically polite, despite the bizarre circumstances.“A very princess-y name,” he answers approvingly, turning his head to smile at me. He has very white teeth.“I’m no princess.”He gives me a considering look. “You say that emphatically. Is this something important I should know about you?”This whole conversation is surreal. The fact that Jase Garrett should know, or need to know, anything about me at all is illogical. But instead of telling him that, I find myself confiding, “Well, for example, a second ago I wanted to do bodily harm to someone I’d only just met.”Jase takes a long time to answer, as though weighing his thoughts and his words. “We-ell,” he responds finally. “I imagine a lot of princesses have felt that way…arranged marriages and all that. Who could know who you’d get stuck with? But…is this person you want to injure me? ’Cause I can take a hint. You can ask me to leave your roof rather than break my kneecaps.”He stretches out his legs, folding his arms behind his head, oh-so-comfortable in what is oh-so-not his territory. Despite this, I find myself telling him all about Clay Tucker. Maybe it’s because Tracy’s not home and Mom’s acting like a stranger. Maybe it’s because Tim is a waste and Nan is MIA. Maybe it’s something about Jase himself, the way he sits there calmly, waiting to hear the story, as though the hang-ups of some random girl are of interest to him. At any rate, I tell him.After I finish, there’s a pause.Finally, out of the half dark, his profile illuminated by the light from my window, he says, “Well, Samantha…you were introduced to this guy. It went downhill from there. That might make it justifiable homicide. From time to time, I’ve wanted to kill people I knew even less well…strangers in supermarkets.”Am I on my roof with a psychopath? As I start to edge away, he continues. “Those people who walk up to my mom all the time, when she’s with our whole crowd, and say, ‘You know, there are ways to prevent this.’ As if having a big family was like, I don’t know, a forest fire, and they’re Smokey Bear. The ones who tell my dad about vasectomies and the high cost of college as if he has no clue about any of that. More than once I’ve wanted to punch them.”Wow. I’ve never met a boy, at a school or anywhere, who cut through the small talk so quickly.“It’s a good idea to keep your eye on the guys who think they know the one true path,” Jase says reflectively. “They might just mow you down if you’re in their way.”I remember all my own mother’s vasectomy and college comments.“I’m sorry,” I say.Jase shifts, looking surprised. “Well, Mom says to pity them, feel sorry for anyone who thinks what they think is right should be some universal law.”“What does your dad say?”“He and I are on the same page there. So’s the rest of the family. Mom’s our pacifist.” He smiles.A whoop of laughter sounds from the basketball court. I look over to see some boy grab some girl around the waist, whirling her around, then lowering her and clenching her to him.“Why aren’t you down there?” I ask.He looks at me a long time, again as though considering what to say. Finally: “You tell me, Samantha.”Then he stands up, stretches, says good night, and climbs back down the trellis.Chapter FourIn the morning light, brushing my teeth, doing my same old morning routine, looking at my same old face in the mirror—blond hair, blue eyes, freckles, nothing special—it’s easy to believe that it was a dream that I sat out in the darkness in my nightgown talking feelings with a stranger—a Garrett, no less.During breakfast, I ask Mom where she met Clay Tucker, which gets me nowhere as she, preoccupied with vacuuming her way out the door, answers only, “At a political event.”Since that’s pretty much all she goes to anymore, it hardly narrows things down.I corner Tracy in the kitchen as she applies waterproof mascara in the mirror over our wet bar, prepping for a day at the beach with Flip, and tell her all about last night. Except the Jase-on-the-roof part.“What’s the big deal?” she responds, leaning closer to her reflection. “Mom’s finally found someone who turns her on. If he can help the campaign, so much the better. You know how wiggy she already is about November.” She slides her mascara’ed eyes to mine. “Is this all about you and your fear of intimacy?”I hate it when Tracy pulls that self-help, psychoanalytic garbage on me. Ever since her rebellious phase resulted in a year of therapy, she feels qualified to hang out her own shingle.“No, it’s about Mom,” I insist. “She wasn’t herself. If you’d been here, you’d have seen.”Tracy throws open her hands, the gesture taking in our completely updated kitchen, connected to our massive living room and the vast foyer. They’re all too big for three people, too grand, and make God knows what kind of statement. Our house is probably three times the size of the Garretts’. And there are ten of them. “Why would I be here?” she asks. “What is there for any of us here?”I want to say “I’m here.” But I see her point. Our house contains all that’s high-end and high-tech and shiny clean. And three people who would rather be somewhere else.Mom likes routines. This means we have certain meals on certain nights—soup and salad on Monday, pasta on Tuesday, steak on Wednesday—you get the idea. She keeps charts of our school activities on the wall, even if she doesn’t actually have time to attend them, and makes sure we don’t have too much unaccounted-for time during the summer. Some of her routines have fallen by the wayside since she got elected. Some have been amped up. Friday dinners at the Stony Bay Bath and Tennis Club remain sacrosanct.The Stony Bay Bath and Tennis Club is the kind of building everyone in town would think was tacky if “everyone” didn’t want to belong to it. It was built fifteen years ago but looks like a Tudor castle. It’s in the hills above town, so there’s a great view of the river and the sound from both the Olympic and the Lagoon pools. Mom loves the B&T. She’s even on the board of directors. Which means that, thanks to swim team, I was roped into lifeguarding there last summer and am signed up again this year, twice a week starting next Monday. That’s two whole days at the B&T, plus Friday dinners.And so, because today is a Friday, here we all are, Tracy, Flip, and me, walking through the imposing oak doors behind Mom. Despite Tracy and Flip’s eternal quest for the gold in the PDA Olympics, Mom loves Flip. Maybe it’s because his dad runs the biggest business in Stony Bay. For whatever reason, since Flip and Tracy started dating six months ago, he always gets to come along for Friday night hornpipe dinner. Lucky guy.We have our usual table, underneath a gigantic painting of a whaling ship surrounded by enormous whales, stabbed by harpoons but still able to chomp on a few unlucky sailors.“We need to outline our summer plans,” Mom says when the bread basket comes. “Get a handle on it all.”“Moth-er! We’ve been through this. I’m going to the Vineyard. Flip has a sweet job teaching tennis for a bunch of families, and I’ve got a house with my friends, and I’m gonna waitress at the Salt Air Smithy. The rental starts up this week. It’s all planned.”Mom slides her cloth napkin off her plate and unfolds it. “You’ve broached this, Tracy, yes. But I haven’t agreed to it.”“This is my summer to have fun. I’ve earned that,” Tracy says, leaning over her plate for her water glass. “Right, Flip?”Flip has wisely attacked the bread basket, slathering his roll with maple butter, and can’t answer.“I don’t need to be accountable to colleges anymore. I’m in at Middlebury. I don’t need to prove a thing.”“Working hard and doing well are only about proving something?” Mom arches her eyebrows.“Flip?” Tracy says again. He’s still finding his roll fascinating, adding even more butter as he continues to chew.Mom focuses her attention on me. “So, Samantha. I want to be sure you’re all set for the summer. Your Breakfast Ahoy job is how many mornings a week?” She gives the waiter pouring our ice water her charm-the-public smile.“Three, Mom.”“Then there are the two days of lifeguarding.” A little crease crimps her forehead. “That leaves you three afternoons free. Plus the weekends. Hmm.” I watch her split a Parker House roll and butter it, knowing she won’t eat it. It’s just something she does to concentrate.“Mom! Samantha’s seventeen! God!” Tracy says. “Let her have some free time.”As she’s saying this, a shadow falls on the table and we all look up. It’s Clay Tucker.“Grace”—he kisses one cheek, the other, then pulls out the chair next to Mom, flipping it around to straddle it—“and the rest of your lovely family. I didn’t realize you had a son.”Tracy and Mom hasten to correct this misapprehension as the waiter arrives with the menu. Kind of unnecessary to even offer one, since the B&T has had the same Friday night prix fixe dinner menu since dinosaurs roamed the earth in madras and boat shoes.“I was just saying to Tracy that she should choose something more goal-oriented for the summer,” Mom says, handing her buttered roll to Clay. “Something more directed than having fun on the Vineyard.”He drapes his arms over the back of the chair and looks at Tracy, head cocked. “I think a nice summer away from home might be just the ticket for your Tracy, Grace—good prep for going away to college. And it gives you more room to focus on the campaign.”Mom scans his face for a moment, then appears to find some invisible signal there. “Well, then.” She concedes, “Maybe I’ve been too hasty, Tracy. If you can give me the names, numbers, and addresses of these girls you’re sharing a house with, and your hours at work.”“Gracie.” Clay Tucker chuckles, voice low and amused. “This is parenthood. Not politics. We don’t need the street addresses.”Mom smiles at him, a flush fanning over her cheekbones. “You’re right. Here I am, getting all het up about the wrong things.”Het up? Since when does my mother use a phrase like that? Before my eyes, she’s turning into Scarlett O’Hara. Is this going to help her win in Connecticut?I slide my phone out of my pocket under the table and text Nan: Mom kidnapped by aliens. Pleez advise.Guess what? Nan types back, ignoring this. I won the Laslo for Literature prize! I get my essay on Huck Finn and Holden Caulfield into the CT State Lit for High School Students Journal!!!!! Daniel got his essay in last year and he says it totally helped him ace MIT!!! Columbia, here I come!I remember that essay. Nan sweated over it, and I thought the topic was such a strange choice because I know she hates Catcher in the Rye—“All that swearing. And he’s crazy.”Gr8t! I respond as Mom reaches out for my phone, snapping it shut and tucking it into her purse.“Samantha, Mary Mason called me today about Tim.” She takes a deliberate sip of water and glances at me, eyebrows lifted again.This can’t be good. “About Tim” is always code for “disaster” these days.“She wants me to pull some strings to get him a lifeguard job here. Apparently, the job at Hot Dog Haven didn’t work out.”Right. Because if you have trouble putting ketchup and mustard on a hot dog, you should totally move on to saving lives.“The other lifeguard job is available at the club now that they’re opening the Lagoon pool. What do you think?”Uh, catastrophe? Tim and lifesaving are not exactly a natural combo. I know he can swim well—he was on the team at Hodges before he got expelled—but…“What?” she asks impatiently as I worry my lip between my teeth.When I’m lifeguarding, I barely take my eyes off the pool for a second. I imagine Tim sitting in that lifeguard chair and wince. But I’ve been fudging what he’s up to—to his parents, to my mom for years now.…“Mom, he’s kind of—distracted these days. I don’t think—”“I know.” Her voice is impatient. “That’s the point, Samantha—why something like this would be good for him. He’d need to focus, get out in the sun and the fresh air. Above all, it will look good on his college applications. I’m going to sponsor him.” She reaches for her own cell, giving me her end-of-conversation nod.“So,” Clay says, smiling at me, Tracy, and Flip. “You guys mind if your mom and I talk shop?”“Talk away,” Tracy says airily.Clay plunges right in. “I’ve been looking at this guy’s specs, this Ben Christopher you’re running against this time, Grace. And here’s what I’m thinking: You need to be more relatable.”Is that a word?Mom squints at him as though he’s speaking a foreign language, so maybe not.“Ben Christopher.” Clay outlines: “Grew up in Bridgeport, poor family, prep school on an ABC scholarship, built his own company manufacturing solar panels, getting the green vote there.” He pauses to butter the other half of Mom’s roll and takes a big bite. “He’s got that man-of-the-people thing going on. You, honey, can seem a little stiff. Chilly.” Another bite of roll, more chewing. “I know differently, but…”Ew. I glance over at Tracy, expecting her to be as grossed out by this as I am, but she’s preoccupied by Flip, intertwining their hands.“What do I do, then?” A furrow forms between Mom’s eyebrows. I’ve never heard her ask anyone for advice. She doesn’t even find it easy to ask for directions when we’re completely lost.“Relax.” Clay puts his hand on her forearm, squeezes it. “We just show what’s there. The softer side of Grace.”Sounds like a laundry detergent ad.He shoves his hand into his pocket and extracts something, holding it up for us to see. One of Mom’s old campaign flyers. “See, here’s what I’m talkin’ about. Your campaign slogan last time. Grace Reed: Working for the Common Weal. That’s just awful, darlin’.”Mom says defensively, “I did win, Clay.” I’m a little impressed that he’s being so blunt with her. Tracy and I came in for our fair share of teasing at school about that campaign slogan.“You did”—he gives her a swift grin—“which is a tribute to your charm and skill. But ‘weal’? Gimme a break. Am I right, girls? Flip?” Flip grunts around his third bread roll, casting a longing glance toward the door. I don’t blame him for wanting to escape. “The last person who used that in a political campaign was John Adams. Or maybe Alexander Hamilton. Like I say, you need to be more relatable, be who people are looking for. More families, young families, are moving into our state all the time. That’s your hidden treasure. You’re not going to get the common-man vote. Ben Christopher’s got that locked. So here’s my idea: Grace Reed works hard for your family because family is her focus. What do you think?”At this point the waiter arrives with our appetizers. He doesn’t miss a beat about Clay being at the table, making me wonder if this was planned all along.“My, this looks mighty good,” Clay Tucker says as the waiter tucks a big bowl of chowder in front of him. “Now, some would say we Southerners wouldn’t know how to appreciate this kind of thing. But I like to appreciate what’s in front of me. And this”—he tips his spoon at my mother, flashing a grin at the rest of us—“is delicious.”I get the feeling I’ll be seeing a lot of Clay Tucker.Chapter FiveWhen I get home from work the next day, sticky from walking back in the summer heat, my eyes immediately turn to the Garretts’. The house seems unusually quiet. I stand there looking, then see Jase in the driveway, lying on his back, doing some kind of work on a huge black-and-silver motorcycle.I want to say right here that I am by no means the kind of girl who finds motorcycles and leather jackets appealing. In the least. Michael Kristoff, with his dark turtlenecks and moody poetry, was as close as I’ve gotten to liking a “bad boy,” and he was enough to put me off them for life. We dated almost all spring, till I realized he was less a tortured artist than just a torture. That said, without planning, I walk right to the end of our yard, around my mother’s tall “good neighbor” fence—the six-foot stockade she installed a few months after the Garretts moved in—and up the driveway.“Hi there,” I say. Brilliant opener, Samantha.Jase props himself up on an elbow, looking at me for a minute without saying anything. His face gets an unreadable expression, and I wish I could take back walking over.Then he observes, “I’m guessing that’s a uniform.”Crap. I’d forgotten I was still wearing it. I look down at myself, in my short blue skirt, puffy white sailor blouse, and jaunty red neck scarf.“Bingo.” I’m completely embarrassed.He nods, then smiles broadly at me. “It didn’t quite say Samantha Reed to me somehow. Where on earth do you work?” He clears his throat. “And why there?”“Breakfast Ahoy. Near the dock. I like to keep busy.”“The uniform?”“My boss designed it.”Jase scrutinizes me in silence for a minute or two, then says, “He must have a rich fantasy life.”I don’t know how to respond to this, so I pull one of Tracy’s nonchalant moves and shrug.“It pays well?” Jase asks, reaching for a wrench.“Best tips in town.”“I’ll bet.”I have no clue why I’m having this conversation. And no idea how to continue it. He’s concentrating on unscrewing something or unwrenching something or whatever you call it. So I ask, “Is this your motorcycle?”“My brother Joel’s.” He stops working and sits up, as though it would be impolite to continue if we’re actually carrying on a conversation. “He likes to cultivate that whole ‘born to be wild’ outlaw image. Prefers it to the jock one, although he is, in fact, a jock. Says he winds up with smarter girls that way.”I nod, as if I’d know. “Does he?”“I’m not sure.” Jase’s forehead creases. “The image-cultivation thing has always seemed kind of fake-o and manipulative to me.”“So, you don’t have some persona?” I sit down in the grass next to the driveway.“Nope. What you see is what you get.” He grins at me again.What I see, frankly, up close and in daylight, is pretty nice. In addition to the sun-streaked, wavy chestnut hair and even white teeth, Jase Garrett has green eyes, and one of those quirky mouths that look like they are always about to smile. Plus this steady-on, I-have-no-problem-looking-you-in-the-eye gaze. Oh my.I glance around, try to think of something to say. Finally: “Pretty quiet around here today.”“I’m babysitting.”I look around again. “Where’s the baby? In the toolbox?”He tips his head at me, acknowledging the joke. “Naptime,” he explains. “George and Patsy. Mom’s grocery shopping. It takes her hours.”“I’ll bet.” Prying my eyes from his face, I notice his T-shirt is sticky with sweat at the collar and under the arms.“Are you thirsty?” I ask.Broad smile. “I am. But I’m not about to take my life in my hands and ask you to get me something to drink. I know your mom’s new boyfriend is a marked man for ordering you to serve.”“I’m thirsty too. And hot. My mom makes good lemonade.” I stand up and start backing away.“Samantha.”“Uh-huh.”“Come back, okay?”I look at him a second, nod, then go into the house, shower, thereby discovering that Tracy’s perfidiously used up all my conditioner again, change into shorts and a tank top, and come back with two huge plastic cups full of lemonade and clinking ice.When I walk up the driveway, Jase has his back to me, doing something to one of the wheels, but he turns as my flip-flops slap close.I hand him the lemonade. He looks at it the way I’m realizing Jase Garrett looks at everything—carefully, noticing.“Wow. She even freezes little pieces of lemon peel and mint in the ice cubes. And makes them out of lemonade.”“She’s kind of a perfectionist. Watching her make this is like science lab.”He drains the entire thing in one gulp, then reaches for the other cup.“That’s mine,” I say.“Oh, jeez. Of course. Sorry. I am thirsty.”I extend my arm with the lemonade. “You can have it. There’s always more.”He shakes his head. “I would never deprive you.”I feel my stomach do that weird little flip-flop thing you hear about. Not good. This is our second conversation. Not good at all, Samantha.Just then I hear the roar of a car pulling into our driveway. “Yo, Samantha!”It’s Flip. He cuts the engine, then strides over to us.“Hey, Flip,” Jase calls.“You know him?”“He dated my sister Alice last year.”Flip immediately says to me, “Don’t tell Tracy.”Jase glances at me for clarification.“My sister’s very possessive,” I explain.“Hugely,” Flip adds.“Resents her boyfriends’ past girlfriends,” I say.“Big-time,” agrees Flip.“Niiice,” Jase says.Flip looks defensive. “But she is loyal. No sleeping with my tennis partner.”Jase winces. “You knew what you were getting into with Alice, man.”I glance back and forth between them.Flip says, “So…I didn’t know you two knew each other.”“We don’t,” I say, at the same time Jase answers, “Yup.”“Okay. Whatever.” Flip waves his hands, clearly uninterested. “So where’s Trace?”“I’m supposed to tell you she’s busy all day,” I admit. My sister: master of playing hard to get. Even when she’s already gotten.“Cool. So where is she really?”“Stony Bay Beach.”“I’m there.” Flip turns to go.“Bring her People magazine and a coconut FrozFruit,” I call after him. “Then you’re golden.”When I turn back to Jase, he’s again beaming at me. “You’re nice.” He sounds pleased, as if he hadn’t expected this aspect of my personality.“Not really. Better for me if she’s happy. Then she borrows fewer of my clothes. You know sisters.”“Yup. But mine don’t borrow my clothes.”Abruptly I hear a loud screaming, wailing, banshee-like sound. I jump, wide-eyed.Jase points to the baby monitor plugged in by the garage door. “George.” He starts heading into the house, then turns back, gesturing me to follow.Just like that, I’m going into the Garretts’, after all these years.Thank God Mom works late.The first thing that hits me is the color. Our kitchen’s white and silver-gray everywhere—the walls, the granite countertops, the Sub-Zero, the Bosch dishwasher. The Garretts’ walls are sunny yellow. The curtains are that same yellow with green leaves on them. But everything else is a riot of different colors. The fridge is covered with paintings and drawings, with more taped on the walls. Cans of Play-Doh and stuffed animals and boxes of cereal clutter the green Formica counters. Dishes teeter high in the sink. There’s a table big enough for all the Garretts to eat at, but not big enough to contain the piles of newspapers and magazines and socks and snack wrappers and swim goggles, half-eaten apples and banana peels.George meets us before we’re halfway through the kitchen. He’s holding a large plastic triceratops, wearing nothing but a shirt that says Brooklyn Botanical Gardens. That’s to say, no pants, no underwear.“Whoa, buddy.” Jase bends down, indicating the naked half of his brother with a wave of his hand. “What happened there?”George, still tear-streaked but no longer screaming, takes a deep breath. He has wavy brown hair too, but the big eyes swimming with tears are blue. “I dreamed about black holes.”“Gotcha.” Jase nods, straightening up. “Is the whole bed wet?”George nods guiltily, then peeps under spiky damp eyelashes at me. “Who’s that?”“The girl next door. Samantha. She probably knows all about black holes.”George eyes me suspiciously. “Do you?”“Well,” I say, “I, um, know that they’re stars that used up all their fuel and then collapsed inward, due to the pull of their own gravity, and, um, that once anything falls into them it disappears from the visible universe.”George starts screaming again.Jase scoops him up, bare bottom and all. “She also knows that there are none anywhere near Connecticut. Don’t you, Samantha?”I feel horrible. “Not even in our universe,” I tell him hastily, although I’m pretty sure there’s one in the Milky Way.“There’s one in the Milky Way,” sobs George.“But that’s nowhere near Stony Bay.” Reaching out to pat him on the back, I inadvertently touch Jase’s hand, as he’s doing the same. I snatch mine away.“So you’re completely safe, buddy.”George’s cries descend into hiccups, then depart altogether under the influence of a lime Popsicle.“I’m so, so sorry,” I whisper to Jase, declining the remaining Popsicle in the box, orange. Does anyone ever take the orange ones?“How could you know?” he whispers back. “And how could I know you were an astrophysicist?”“I went through a big stargazing phase.” My face heats, thinking of all the nights I sat on the roof, watching the stars…and the Garretts.He raises an eyebrow at me, as though unclear why this would be embarrassing. The worst thing about being a blonde is that your entire body blushes—ears, throat, everything. Impossible to overlook.There’s another wail from upstairs.“That’ll be Patsy.” Jase starts for the stairs. “Wait here.”“I’d better get home,” I say, although there’s really no reason to do that.“No. Stay. I’ll just be a sec.”I’m left with George. He sucks on his Popsicle meditatively for a few minutes, then asks, “Did you know that in space it’s very, very cold? And there’s no oxygen? And if an astronaut fell out of a shuttle without his suit he’d die right away?”I’m a fast learner. “But that would never happen. Because astronauts are really, really careful.”George gives me a smile, the same dazzling sweet smile as his big brother, although, at this point, with green teeth. “I might marry you,” he allows. “Do you want a big family?”I start to cough and feel a hand pat my back.“George, it’s usually better to discuss this kind of thing with your pants on.” Jase drops boxer shorts at George’s feet, then sets Patsy on the ground next to him.She’s wearing a pink sunsuit and has one of those little ponytails that make one sprout of hair stick straight up on top, all chubby arms and bowed legs. She’s, what, one now?“Dat?” she demands, pointing to me a bit belligerently.“Dat is Samantha,” Jase says. “Apparently soon to be your sister-in-law.” He cocks an eyebrow. “You and George move fast.”“We talked astronauts,” I explain, just as the door opens and in comes Mrs. Garrett, staggering under the weight of about fifty grocery bags.“Gotcha.” He winks, then turns to his mother. “Hey, Mom.”“Hi, honey. How were they?” She’s completely focused on her older son and doesn’t seem to notice me.“Reasonable,” Jase tells her. “We need to change George’s sheets, though.” He takes a few of the plastic bags, setting them down on the floor by the fridge.She narrows her eyes at him. They’re green like Jase’s. She’s pretty, for a mom, with this open, friendly face, crinkles at the corners of her eyes as though she smiles a lot, the family olive skin, curly brown hair. “What naptime story did you read him?”“Mom. Curious George. I edited it too. There was a little hot-air balloon incident I thought might be problematic.” Then he turns to me. “Oh, sorry. Samantha, this is my mom. Mom, Samantha Reed. From next door.”She gives me a big smile. “I didn’t even see you standing there. How I overlooked such a pretty girl, I don’t know. I do like the shimmery lip gloss.”“Mom.” Jase sounds a little embarrassed.She turns back to him. “This is just the first wave. Can you get the other bags?”While Jase brings in a seemingly endless series of groceries, Mrs. Garrett chats away to me as though we’ve always known each other. It’s so weird sitting there in the kitchen with this woman I’ve seen from a distance for ten years. Like finding yourself in an elevator with a celebrity. I repress the urge to say “I’m a huge fan.”I help her put away the groceries, which she manages to do while breast-feeding. My mother would die. I try to pretend I’m used to viewing this kind of thing all the time.An hour at the Garretts’ and I’ve already seen one of them half-naked, and quite a lot of Mrs. Garrett’s breast. All I need now is for Jase to take off his shirt.Fortunately for my equilibrium, he doesn’t, although he does announce, after carrying in all the bags, that he needs a shower, beckons me to follow, and marches upstairs.I do follow. This is the crazy part. I don’t even know him. I don’t know what kind of person he is at all. Though I figure that if his normal-looking mother lets him take a girl up to his room, he’s not going to be a mad rapist. Still, what would Mom think now?Walking into Jase’s room is like walking into…well, I’m not sure…A forest? A bird sanctuary? One of those tropical habitats they have at zoos? It’s filled with plants, really tall ones and hanging ones and succulents and cacti. There are three parakeets in a cage and a huge, hostile-looking cockatoo in another. Everywhere I look, there are other creatures. A tortoise in an enclosure beside the bureau. A bunch of gerbils in another cage. A terrarium with some sort of lizardy-looking thing. A ferret in a little hammock in another cage. A gray-and-black furry indistinguishable rodent-like beast. And finally, on Jase’s neatly made bed, an enormous white cat so fat it looks like a balloon with tiny furry appendages.“Mazda.” Jase beckons me to sit in a chair by the bed. When I do, Mazda jumps into my lap and commences shedding madly, trying to nurse on my shorts, and making low rumbling sounds.“Friendly.”“Understatement. Weaned too early,” Jase says. “I’m going to take that shower. Make yourself at home.”Right. In his room. No problem.I did on occasion visit Michael’s room, but usually in the dark, where he recited gloomy poetry he’d memorized. And it took a lot longer than two conversations to get me there. I briefly dated this guy Charley Tyler last fall too, until we realized that my liking his dimples and him liking my blond hair, or, let’s face it, my boobs, wasn’t enough basis for a relationship. He never got me into his room. Maybe Jase Garrett is some sort of snake charmer. That would explain the animals. I look around again. Oh God, there is a snake. One of those orange, white, and black scary-looking ones that I know are harmless but completely freak me out anyway.The door opens, but it’s not Jase. It’s George, now wearing boxer shorts but no shirt. He comes over and plunks down on the bed, looking at me somberly. “Did you know that the space shuttle Challenger blew up?”I nod. “A long time ago. They have perfected things much more now.”“I’d be ground crew at NASA. Not on the shuttle. I don’t want to die ever.”I find myself wanting to hug him. “Me neither, George.”“Is Jase already going to marry you?”I start coughing again. “Uh. No. No, George. I’m only seventeen.” As if that’s the only reason we aren’t engaged.“I’m this many,” George holds up four slightly grubby fingers. “But Jase is seventeen and a half. You could. Then you could live in here with him. And have a big family.”Jase strides back into the room, of course, midway through this proposition. “George. Beat it. Discovery Channel is on.”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.“Oh Jesus.” Jase, now clad in a different green T-shirt and pair of navy running shorts, sits down on the bed. His hair is wavier when wet, and little drops of water drip onto his shoulders.“It’s okay. I love him,” I say. “I think I will marry him.”“You might want to think about that. Or at least be really careful about the bedtime reading.”He smiles lazily at me.I need to get out of this guy’s room. Fast. I stand up, start to cross the room, then notice a picture of a girl stuck on the mirror over the bureau. I walk closer to take a look. She has curly black hair in a ponytail and a serious expression. She’s also quite pretty. “Who’s this?”“My ex-girlfriend. Lindy. She had the sticker made at the mall. Now I can’t get it off.”“Why ex?” Why am I asking this?“She got to be too dangerous,” Jase says. “You know, now that I think of it, I guess I could put another sticker on top of it.”“You could.” I lean closer to the mirror, examining her perfect features. “Define dangerous.”“She shoplifted. A lot. And she only ever wanted to go to the mall on dates. Hard not to look like an accomplice. Not my favorite way to spend an evening, doing time, waiting to get bailed out.”“My sister shoplifted too,” I say, as though this is some nifty thing we have in common.“Ever take you along?”“No, thank God. I’d die if I got in trouble.”Jase looks at me intently, as though what I’ve said is profound. “No, you wouldn’t, Samantha. You wouldn’t die. You’d just be in trouble and then you’d move on.”He’s standing behind me, too close again. He smells like minty shampoo and clean, clean skin. Apparently any distance at all is too close.“Yeah, well, I do have to move on. Home. I have stuff to do.”“You sure?”I nod vigorously. Just as we get to the kitchen, the screen door slams and Mr. Garrett comes in, followed by a small boy. Small, but bigger than George. Duff? Harry?Like everyone else in the family up till now, I’ve only seen Jase’s father from a distance. Close up, he looks younger, taller, with the kind of charisma that makes the room feel full just because he’s in it. His hair’s the same wavy deep brown as Jase’s, but shot with gray rather than blond streaks. George runs over and attaches himself to his dad’s leg. Mrs. Garrett steps back from the sink to smile at him. She lights up the way I’ve seen girls at school do, sighting their crushes across crowded rooms.“Jack! You’re home early.”“We hit the three-hour mark at the store with no one coming in.” Mr. Garrett brushes a strand of her hair away from her face, tucking it behind her ear. “I decided my time would be better spent getting in some more training with Jase, so I scooped up Harry from his playdate and came on home.”“I get to run the stopwatch! I get to run the stopwatch!” Harry shouts.“My turn! Daddy! It’s my turn!” George’s face crumples.“You can’t even read the numbers,” Harry says. “No matter how fast or slow he runs, you always say it’s been eleventeen minutes. It’s my turn.”“I brought home an extra stopwatch from the store,” Mr. Garrett says. “You up for it, Jason?”

Editorial Reviews

“Will connect with your heart—guaranteed!”—Lurlene McDaniel, bestselling author of Heart to Heart  
“An almost perfect summer romance.”—Kirkus Reviews “Serious swoonsville.”—iHeartDaily.com “Perfectly captures the heady joys of first love.”—VOYA  “A summer romance with depth.”—The Boston Sunday Globe