A gorgeous 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.”
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?
Sam Reed has watched The Garrett family for over 10 years from her balcony roof. They are everything her family are not. They are loud, messy, there are 10 of them: five boys and three girls, and they are an affectionate family. A family that Sam isn’t allowed to associate with. But every night she watches them, wishing she could be a part of their family.
Sam lives with her mother and her sister. Her dad left with her mum was pregnant with her, so it’s always been just the three of them. They are the complete opposite to The Garretts. Her mother likes everything clean and spotless and hoovers any trace of footprints from the carpet every day.
But as stories go, if you’re watching a family every night, one of them is eventually going to spot you and enter Jase, who climbs up to her balcony and talks to her. Day by day they spend more time together, first starting a friendship which soon blossoms into a such a lovely relationship.
Over time, she realizes that there is so much more love in The Garrett’s household than she’s ever got in hers. Four-year-old George is besotted with Sam, and he’s such a cute character, stating random facts and his constant worry over what might happen, but Sam knows just how to keep him happy from his worries and entertained when she babysits the young children. To him, she’s a superhero, after spotting her one day after work in her outfit and starts calling her Super Sailorgirl. With George smitten with Sam, besides Jase of course, Sam quickly becomes a part of The Garrett’s family, helping without being asked – it just comes naturally to her and because her family isn’t like this, I think she craved to be a part of their family.
I loved the character of Jase. He cares so much for his family, always willing to help out without being asked. He was always there when he was needed by his family and when Sam got into a bit of a dilemma; he was there to help her straight away. It was obviously how much he liked Sam and vice versa. Although he was a bit of a secret hidden from Sam’s family and best friend, she was just scared about him not being accepted as already said, her mum doesn’t want her around them.
Sam’s mum, Grace, was a bitch to put it lightly. She was self-centered, judgemental and completely vain – someone who should never have had children. She looks down at the Garretts because of the amount of children they have, the noise they make and the amount of toys thrown around their lawn. She doesn’t let Sam or her sister go and play with them. But now that her mother is concentrating on her re-election campaign, she tries to make sure their lives are perfect so nothing affects her chances. When her mother’s gets a new, younger boyfriend and campaign manager Clay, he has Grace wrapped around his finger and after knowing her uptight mother for years, he’s come along and changed her to the point she doesn’t even recognize her and she’s even more grateful her mother doesn’t notice all the time she spends next door.
When tragedy strikes for both families, Sam is torn between her loyalty to her own family or her loyalty to The Garretts, who she has grown to love and vice versa, as they accept her for her. Sam has to decide what to do to try and make things better. Keep the secret to herself or tell knowing it will break both families hearts.
This is a story that will draw you in and make you want to be a part of this huge family. It tugs at your heartstrings how much Jase and Sam’s relationship grows, how much The Garretts love her and how easy it was for her to slip into their family unit.
The story kept me captivated to the very end and it was great to see their love survive through the hardships of everything.