There’s nothing like the simple, delectable pleasure of getting lost in a book on a summer’s day—as author Huntley Fitzpatrick understands. Her debut novel, My Life Next Door, follows Samantha Reed during her 17th summer, when she falls for the most unlikely candidate imaginable: the boy next door.

Samantha lives in a coastal Connecticut town with her mother and older sister, Tracy, in a house so pristine her mother has been known to vacuum behind the girls as they walk out the door in the morning. It’s quiet, clean and, Samantha must admit, a bit boring and lonely.

No wonder she’s been watching the large, boisterous family next door for years. Her mother has forbidden Samantha from playing with the Garretts, but despite the scattered toys, unkempt lawn and Mrs. Garrett’s habit of breastfeeding yet another new baby, something about their messy life appeals to her.

Then she meets Jase Garrett and everything changes. Samantha is drawn into Jase’s life and grows comfortable with the entire family. When something terrible and unexpected happens, Samantha faces a heartbreaking decision that tests her love for her family and her own sense of right and wrong.

Samantha and Jase embark on their romance not in a vacuum, but as real teens who balance family responsibilities, work, worries about friends and questions about their futures. Fitzpatrick, a mother of six, captures the magic of family and love in this impressive debut.

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