Samantha Reed lives a life of relative privilege with her single mother and older sister that includes private school, weekly dinners at the local country club and a summer job where she gets to spend time with her long time BFF, Nan and her twin brother, Tim. Life isn't always what it seems and Samantha's is no different. Her Mom's a Senator and a contradiction of sorts. On one hand, she's rarely around but when she is, she takes "involved" to a whole new level, going as far as checking to see if Samantha's hair is properly conditioned and making sure she's in bed by a certain time each night. (She's seventeen, not seven for crying out loud!) Then there's the issue with the vacuum cleaner and making sure the lines in the carpet are just right. OCD, much?
Samantha takes refuge each night on the balcony off her room where she's able to watch the Garretts, the family who lives next door. They're the ones with the 25 kids who obviously never learned what birth control was for or how to properly care for a pool, a yard or a house but managed to snag their own reality T.V. show on TLC. Oh, wait...wrong family. The Garretts really only have 8 kids and yeah, they have all those other things I mentioned, save for the reality T.V. show but that's they way they're treated by a lot of people in town. People feel the need to comment on their lives, how many kids they have, etc., etc., What outsiders fail to miss is how much love the Garretts have going on.
Samantha has secretly watched the Garretts for years, something her mother would have a cow over if she ever found out. Her mother thinks the Garretts are "those kind" of people and turns her nose up at them any chance she gets. But all that's about to change when Jase, the smart, funny, considerate and of course, gorgeous boy from the wrong side of the fence decides to climb Samantha's trellis. One simple question will begin a journey of love and adventure that neither Samantha or Jase will ever forget and one that will change both of their families lives' forever.
Jase and his family immediately suck Samantha into their big, loud, crazy and close-nit family. Much of the time she is completely out of her element and you can feel her mix of discomfort and fascination which is nothing short of hilarious! She isn't used to life in Garrettville but she's learning to love it and who she is when she's there. But each time Samantha goes home, she still struggles with having to be the person her mother expects her to be. The more time she spends with the Garretts though, the more she learns how to love people even with all of their shortcomings, how to handle delicate situations with little people and the importance of doing what's right regardless of what others may think.
Just when Samantha thinks her life couldn't get any better, one choice changes everything leaving her to decide whether what she and Jase have is worth fighting for or if family always comes first. Making the right choice isn't always easy but it's always worth it.
I'm known for my book boy crushes, but those are usually reserved for the teenagers, so you can imagine my surprise when I fell completely in love with George, the 4 year old walking encyclopedia of the Garrett family. There were times when he stole this story right out from under Jase and Samantha's noses and stole my heart in the process.
A little sample of the awesome that is George:
"George gives me a smile, the same dazzling sweet smile as his big brother, although, at this point with green teeth. "I might marry you," he allows, "Do you want a big family?"
I start to cough and feel a hand pat my back.
"George, it's usually better to discuss these kinds of things with your pants on." Jase drops boxer shorts at George's feet, then sets Patsy on the ground next to him.
"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.
"I'm this many." George holds up four, slightly grubby fingers. "But Jase is seventeen and a half. You could. Then you could live in here with him. And have a big family."
Jase strides back into the room, of course, midway through this proposition. "George. Beat it. Discovery Channel is on."
George backs out of the room but not before saying, "His bed's really comfortable. And he never pees in it." ...TEAM GEORGE FOR THE WIN! :D
All of these characters have something to offer, regardless of age or perceived flaws. Even Tim, Samantha's childhood friend, who comes from a picture perfect home but whose potty mouth is so bad, that if made to fill a jar each time he swore, could put the entire Garrett clan through college, has a charm all his own. He proves that he's quite talented with females, of all ages *wink wink*. He even possess the unique ability to decipher the true meaning of the book, "If You Give A Mouse A Cookie." (That part made me snort water through my nose.) Tim is also the perfect example that there's always more than meets the eye and when given the chance (sometimes multiple chances), people can surprise you.
READ THIS BOOK, YOU WON'T REGRET IT!