It's been a long time since I have fell for a teenage protagonist. After all, I am not exactly in the teen age range any more, and haven't been for a long time. But Huntley Fitzpatrick's novel, My Life Next Door, changed that.
Jase is the boy next door. He is one of eight children, and constant chaos seems to surround their house. Samantha's mom has no time for the Garretts. She is disciplined and orderly and has plenty to say about the way the Garretts choose to live. Despite the fact that the two families have been neighbors for a few years, Samantha and Jase have never talked. Then in one magical summer, the two fall in love. And this is where I must confess that Jase seemed nearly perfect to me, too. He tenderly cared for his younger siblings, willingly did his part around the house, worked for his father, was training for football. And best of all, he reallly cared about Samantha. The two of them actually discussed having sex, and were mature about their decisions. If nothing else, hopefully Jase's behavior will encourage teen readers to make responsible decisions and try to find a partner with whom they can really talk.
However, Samantha doesn't tell her mother that she and Jase are dating right away. Her mom is absorbed by work and is dating a younger man herself. And Samantha knows how her mom will react to the fact that she is dating one of the Garretts. The fallout from this discover is nothing, though, compared to what happens when Samantha must choose between her family or Jase's after a tragic accident.
I loved this book. Fitzpatrick has created two great teen-age characters that are easily believable and likeable. I'll be busy recommending this one to lots of teen readers.