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I am a huge fan of Huntley Fitzpatrick’s. I read My Life Next Door a couple years ago, and What I Thought Was True earlier this year. I loved both. I was eagerly anticipating the release of The Boy Most Likely To (even had the date circled on my calendar), but I just didn’t love it as much as I loved her other two books.

We first met Tim in My Life Next Door as the twin brother of Sam’s best friend. Alice is Jase’s older sister. You might remember Tim from MLND as a hot mess, but after being kicked out of school, and out of his home, Tim is getting his life back on track in TBMLT. Newly sober, Tim moves in with the Garretts, where he promptly butts heads with Alice, who has taken on the role of parent after her father’s accident and her mother’s recent pregnancy. Another person to look out for – just what Alice absolutely didn’t need. But soon, Tim and Alice develop a sort of friendship, and then a relationship, and maybe it turns out that they balance each other out pretty perfectly.

I’ve seen a lot of people try to review this book without spoilers, but seeing how there’s a curveball in the first few chapters, it’s pretty much impossible. I’m going to put my review under a read more.

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Let me start by saying this: I love babies. I will babysit your infant any day. I will sew cute bibs for you, spend endless hours shopping for baby clothes, and ooh and ahh about your pictures and videos. But that does not mean that I want babies in my YA.

Let’s face it. There’s very little that “the unexpected consequences of Tim’s wild days” could mean, aside from a surprise baby. But still, I was not expecting the majority of this novel to focus on child rearing. Is this supposed to be a cautionary tale? Is there a lesson here? Or it is simply a plot device so that Tim is forced to grow up a little? I couldn’t tell.

As if Tim didn’t have enough going on in his life – trying to stay sober, to keep away from drugs, to get himself back on track – a baby is added to the mix. And, although he doesn’t remember sleeping with Hester, the baby’s mother, he immediately accepts that the child is his, without a paternity test. Father a child? Sounds like something I might do.

And this creates the main conflict of their relationship. Tim doesn’t feel that Hester is a good mother, so he takes on most of the responsibility of raising Cal. Alice has enough on her plate just dealing with her own siblings, so for her now sort of semi-boyfriend to add another child to the mix might just push her over the edge. Does she really want to become a surrogate mother to yet another child? Maybe she should rethink her budding relationship with this guy. Or… maybe she’ll just accept it, as almost everyone in this book does.

TBMLT doesn’t have a lot going on aside from the baby thing. Tim and Alice’s relationship builds very slowly, almost to the point that, when they finally get together, I was left thinking, where did that come from? I definitely got the sense that Tim had a thing for Alice, but I never really got the sense that Alice reciprocated. Sure, she learned to tolerate him, maybe even enjoy his company, but I didn’t get any of those firework feelings I got with Sam and Jase in MLND.

Some threads from MLND are carried through into this book. Sam and Jase, of course, make appearances. Sam’s fight with Nan is mentioned, though for the life of me, I can’t remember what it was about. The accident is brought up and becomes a semi-important side plot, mainly for Alice, but also a bit for Tim. And, as expected, the little Garretts appear and steal the show in their brief scenes. Patsy was my favorite, with her possessiveness toward Tim.

Overall, I think that TBMLT is definitely the weakest book I’ve read by Huntley Fitzpatrick. The baby thing did not have a satisfying end. The relationship did not have a satisfying build up. The dual-POV was jarring. There was too much angst. It’s still far better than a good amount of the books I’ve read so far this year, but it’s not up to the level that I expect from Fitzpatrick. Still, I definitely recommend it for any of her die-hard fans, because if nothing else, you’ll enjoy the throwbacks to her other novels.

Final rating: ★★★☆☆

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Book review: What I Thought Was True by Huntley Fitzpatrick

What I Thought Was True by Huntley Fitzpatrick
Rating: ★★★★☆
Links: AmazonGoodreads
Publication Date: April 7, 2015
Source: Purchased

Gwen’s whole life is about to change.

Gwen Castle comes from a long line of fishermen and housecleaners who support Seashell Island’s summer visitors, and she expects her life to go the same way.

But then she discovers that Cassidy Somers—also known as her Biggest Mistake Ever—is working on the island for the season. And though she tries to avoid him, fate keeps pushing them together.

Sparks fly and secrets are revealed as Gwen spends a gorgeous, restless summer struggling to resolve what she thought was true—about her life, herself, and the people she loves—with what really is.

I was a huge fan of My Life Next Door, and I’ve had What I Thought Was True on my to-read shelf ever since I finished it. I’ve walked past it at bookstores a few times, always thinking, next time I’ll buy it. Well, I bought it. And it’s good. And I’m kicking myself for waiting so long.

Gwen Castle, our protagonist, lives on the wrong side of Seashell Island. She spends her summers working for her father at his beachside restaurant, where she waits on the wealthy summer visitors. This summer, though, she’s working as a “companion” for the well off, elderly Mrs. Ellington. Since she’ll be spending her days with Mrs. Ellington and her nights with her friends, this summer will be the perfect time to finally get past the mistakes she made over the last year.

Cassidy Somers is the epitome of everything Gwen wants to forget. A mistake of a night. A boy she thought had feelings for her, then turned around and crushed her heart. Gwen never thought that Cass would be working on the island this summer too – that in order to whip his son into shape, Cass’s father would make him work as the island’s “yard boy,” spending his days tending the lawns of Seashell Island’s rich and lazy.

As much as Gwen tries to avoid Cass, it seems that they’re constantly thrown together. As their time together increases exponentially, she’s forced to re-evaluate her assumptions and misconceptions about their short-lived relationship. Nothing is what it seems.

Just like in My Life Next Door, I appreciated the honest, realistic portrayals of teenagers in What I Thought Was True. Gwen and Cass, and their friends for that matter, are imperfect but lovable characters. Nobody is all good or all bad. Sometimes in YA, the situations are so unrealistic that I can’t imagine any of them happening to a teenager. In My Life Next Door, everything feels like something that happened to me, one of my friends, or one of my classmates in high school. Misunderstandings, heartbreak, and volatile emotions – all presented in a real, refreshing way.

Another thing I really like about Huntley Fitzpatrick’s books is that she deals with teenage sexuality in a sensitive, but, again, realistic way. Gwen slept with a few boys last year that she’d rather forget. She’s getting a bit of a reputation, and she knows it. But while Gwen is upset at the way the boys refer to her, and she regrets some of her sexual partners, she’s never slut-shamed. This kind of message is so important for teenage girls, and I’m glad that Ms. Fitzpatrick is getting it out there.

I had a really hard time putting this book down, and it was a great reminder of how much I love Huntley Fitzpatrick’s books prior to the release of The Boy Most Likely To. If you’re looking for a summer romance with a deeper message, don’t miss this one.

“Is Jase already gonna marry you?”

I start coughing again. “Uh, No. No, George. I’m only seventeen.” As if that’s the only reason we’re not engaged.

My Life Next Door | Huntley Fitzpatrick

Book review: My Life Next Door by Huntley Fitzpatrick

My Life Next Door by Huntley Fitzpatrick
Rating: ★★★★☆
Links: TBD • Goodreads • Amazon
Publication Date: June 14, 2012
Source: Purchased

“One thing my mother never knew, and would disapprove of most of all, was that I watched the Garretts. All the time.”

The Garretts are everything the Reeds are not. Loud, messy, affectionate. And every day from her rooftop perch, Samantha Reed wishes she was one of them . . . until one summer evening, Jase Garrett climbs up next to her and changes everything.

As the two fall fiercely for each other, stumbling through the awkwardness and awesomeness of first love, Jase’s family embraces Samantha – even as she keeps him a secret from her own. Then something unthinkable happens, and the bottom drops out of Samantha’s world. She’s suddenly faced with an impossible decision. Which perfect family will save her? Or is it time she saved herself?

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

One thing my mother never knew, and would disapprove of most of all, was that I watched the Garretts. All the time.

Samantha Reed, daughter of state senator Grace Reed, has lived a very controlled and sheltered life. The Garretts, the large family next door, are the complete opposite of the Reeds, and Samantha’s mother has forbidden her from associating with them in any way. For the last ten years, Samantha has been secretly watching the Garretts, envying their freedom and the organized chaos of their lives. Her secret is discovered one night as Jase Garrett climbs up to sit next to her, and her life begins to change.

Samantha and Jase fall for each other pretty quickly, but their romance never feels rushed. Unlike many other YA novels, they manage to have a life outside of each other. Samantha works two jobs as a waitress and a lifeguard, and eventually picks up a third babysitting the youngest Garretts. She’s also taking an SAT prep course with her best friend Nan and helping Nan deal with her brother Tim’s alcoholism and drug addiction. Jase is equally well-rounded, working at his father’s hardware store, caring for his many animals, restoring his dream car, and training for football season, hoping to get a football scholarship for college. In fact, all the characters in the book are fully three-dimensional, with their own distinct voices (even the little kids!).

The blurb on the back of the book ominously states “then something unthinkable happens, and the bottom drops out of Samantha’s world.” I thought it would be some unnecessary drama with her and Jase. I really did. A love triangle of some sort, or general teenage angst. I’m trying very hard to avoid spoilers, so all I’ll say is what happens is completely unexpected, and far from the typical Big Conflict of YA novels.

I loved almost everything about this book except for the ending. When I was maybe 50 or 75 pages from the end of the book, I remember thinking, there’s a lot left to happen and not a lot of pages for it to happen in. Well, the ending leaves a lot to the imagination. What happened with Jase’s dad? With Samantha’s mom? With Nan? Or even Tracy? What happened with Clay? I’m hoping that the sequel, though it focuses on Tim rather than Samantha, will answer some of these questions.

All in all, My Life Next Door is a wonderful book. I cannot believe that it was Huntley Fitzpatrick’s debut novel, and I can’t wait to read more from her.

Maybe if I can just sleep for a hundred years, I’ll wake up in a better story.

My Life Next Door | Huntley Fitzpatrick