In The Girl Next Door, author Selene Castrovilla unleashes the bittersweet story of Sam and Jess, best friends and neighbors since preschool. Seventeen-year-old Sam is a not so girly girl who lives with her mom and little brother and who secretly mourns after her father’s death. She is in love with her best friend Jess, the popular baseball player at school that every girl wants to be with. However she thinks she does not stand a chance next to perfect from head-to-toe, Cindy Evans, a popular girl who is just as willing to be with Jess as she is. But all of that changes when Jess is hammered with news that turns his world upside down: he has a rare and treatment-resistant type of cancer.
At first, Jess is devastated by the life he can no longer live and the lack of support he gets from his uptight, cold mother. Although Sam is heartbroken and she feels as if without Jess she has nothing to live for, the love she has for him causes her to stay by Jess’s side at all times and give him nothing but love and care. Throughout the book, as Sam’s support and love for Jess grows stronger so does the feelings they have for each other, and as the months go by their relationship deepens as they begin to fall in love with each other. Castrovilla does a successful job as a writer by capturing the reader’s mind and allowing them to feel the characters’ emotions as the story progresses, and ending the story by giving the reader a genuine lesson about life, love, and making peace with the unpredictable events in life that cannot be changed.
I thought that this book was incredible. Although this novel was sad, it had a beautiful story. The plot is very realistic, and therefore it’s easy to feel the emotions the characters are going though. The ups and downs of Sam and Jess’s story captivated me and made me want to keep reading to see how their story would turn out. The book not only was entertaining to read but also taught me many life lessons and sentimental ideas that could be applied to real life. Although a lot of the book is centered on Jess’s disease, the main focus of the plot is unraveling the two teens’ love story. Because of this, I would recommend this book to teenage girls.
~Amanda H., Class of ’11