Breaking the Curse of the Sequel
I don’t believe that there is in fact a documented literary phenomena to support my splashy sub-heading but admit it you all knew what I was referring to. In case I seem to be going out on a limb here let me rephrase, have you ever read a book and liked it so much that you never wanted to read another thing by the author? No? So it’s just me then? Well let me explain I adored, I mean straight out “loved” My Life Next Door – read my rave review here – and having more than a little bit in common with the anxiety ridden second youngest member of the Garrett family George, I was extremely worried about what a sequel would have in store for me. Oh yeah, and my beloved Garretts too.
Surprises abound and sparks ignite in the highly anticipated, utterly romantic companion to My Life Next Door
Tim Mason was The Boy Most Likely To:
– find the liquor cabinet blindfolded
– need a liver transplant
– drive his car into a house
Alice Garrett was The Girl Most Likely To:
– well, not date her little brother’s baggage-burdened best friend, for starters
For Tim, it wouldn’t be smart to fall for Alice. For Alice, nothing could be scarier than falling for Tim. But Tim has never been known for making the smart choice, and Alice is starting to wonder if the “smart” choice is always the right one. When these two crash into each other, they crash hard.
Then the unexpected consequences of Tim’s wild days come back to shock him. He finds himself in a situation that isn’t all it appears to be, that he never could have predicted . . . but maybe should have.
And Alice is caught in the middle.
Told in Tim’s and Alice’s distinctive, disarming, entirely compelling voices, this return to the world of My Life Next Door is a story about failing first, trying again, and having to decide whether to risk it all once more.
My Life Next Door was ridiculously good, Huntley Fitzpatrick brought the boisterous Garrett family to life etching in loving detail every member of the unbelievably large family, think Kate Plus Eight large. As I write this, one might not appreciate what a difficult task this is, until they stop and consider how many books that a person reads and only the protagonist and/or possibly the love interest have any real detail or character development. I am pretty sure this is not a stylistic choice but actually because it is really hard to give more than just a very small number of characters real and tangible depth. Yet in a Huntley Fitzpatrick novel even the tertiary supporting characters have a vibrancy not often found in novels today.
I am not a kid person, my own notwithstanding though they are not entirely immune to my aversion depending on the day yet I fell in love with the many younger members of this clan. Even my less grumpy book compatriots have been known to comment on how annoying children can be in books. Well in this series they abound and truly steal the show on more than one occasion. In My Life Next Door, I was completely captivated by young George’s many worries, in my mind I imagined a four year old Woody Allenesque fellow. Ms Fitzpatrick proved that this was not just an anomaly with the sequel The Boy Most Likely To where 18 month old Patsy repeatedly stole any scene she was present in. Even newborn Cal had a separate and distinct character truly an awesome feat considering how most infants don’t seem to have much of a personality at all, let alone in literature, to anyone short of their parents.
Amongst the myriad of possibilities for a follow up was the hot mess known as Tim Mason. Samantha Reed’s erstwhile best friend Nan’s twin brother and resident druggie/alcoholic, Tim hits rock bottom towards the end of My Life Next Door and at the beginning of The Boy Most Likely To, we find him struggling to make a go of the sober life with little or no help from his family. Alice, the second of the eight soon to be nine Garrett children, was not a favourite of mine in the first book. Not to put to fine a point on it but Alice seemed to be a bit of a bitch. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, but out of characters whom I loved from the first book she didn’t make my short list of ones I needed to revisit immediately. As I read I found myself emphasizing completely with “Tin Alice” and thinking her the ideal choice. However, if there were ever two mismatched people who were actually perfect for one another it is Tim and Alice.
I often complain about YA and NA literature for the sheer unadulterated amount of angst, the equal one could only find in a soap opera, sometimes not even there. Without a doubt there is some very heavy stuff that goes down in this series and in yet another demonstration of her skill and artistry Ms Fitzpatrick manages to keep the drama high without ever descending into the territory of the maudlin’.
In short, don’t wait to read The Boy Most Likely To, it is easily the equal of it’s excellent predecessor. My George-like fears were completely unfounded, I can only hope that there will be more stories about the many Garrett siblings to come. At the very least I will certainly stop putting off reading What I Thought To Be True.