Happy Thursday, guys!
Today, we're reviewing The Boy Most Likely To by Huntley Fitzpatrick.
I absolutely loved My Life Next Door, when it first came out in 2012, so I've been dying for a return visit to the Garrett family!
Read on for why I loved this book, and why it needs to go on your TBR list immediately.
Hardcover, 432 pages
Expected publication: August 18th 2015 by Dial Books
Format read: E-ARC via publisher
Life seems determined to throw the unlikely pair together, but Fitzpatrick shows in her trademark, warm-hearted style, how Tim and Alice are a couple that might actually make the most sense.
Tim Mason was The Boy Most Likely To find the liquor cabinet blindfolded, need a liver transplant, and 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 novel is for readers of The Spectacular Now, Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist, and Paper Towns.
Fortunately for me, Huntley Fitzpatrick heeded my call and the call of so many other readers, and has brought us back to the world of the Garretts!
Things that worked:
While Tim and Alice only played secondary roles in My Life Next Door, Fitzpatrick brings them to the forefront of The Boy Most Likely To, through alternating perspectives.
Readers are re-introduced to them in the immediate aftermath of the events of the first book, with Tim now moving in with the Garretts, and Alice continuing to care for her recovering father and the rest of the family. Fitzpatrick shows us how the two of them have grown thanks to the events of the first book, but also how they still have much to learn - especially from each other.
Tim's on the road to recovery, having kicked drugs and hard alcohol, and Fitpatrick paints a vivid picture of a young man who is remorseful for past mistakes, and genuinely trying to make right with the world around him. But while part of that process is very is much learning how to love and trust others, Fitpatrick smartly points also about learning to put up boundaries, as needed.
Tim learns that he can't be the type of person who lets things slide, simply because he's the self-professed screw-up or the black sheep of his family. He learns to stand up for himself and advocates for his wishes, including a nice moment where he tells his sister just what he thinks of her antics from the first book.
Conversely, Alice is learning how to cope. She's a bit of a control freak by nature, and Fitzpatrick shows just how letting those tendencies overrule someone's life, can actually lead to more chaos and misery than anything else. It's about balance, which leads to...
The relationship aspect
I didn't think that any couple could outshine my love of Jase and Sam, but I was wrong.
Tim and Alice are about as dysfunctional as you can get - he's trying to to figure his life out, while she knows exactly what she wants, but not how to necessarily get there - but that's also exactly why they work.
Fitpatrick paints a beautiful picture on how these two very different people manage to compliment each other in all the right ways - e.g. Tim's ability to essentially con his way out of a situation helps a stressed-out Alice - and they dually learn to push each other to be better, but to also become more comfortable in their own skin, especially as Tim deals with an unexpected challenge to his life. (More on this later.)
It's a beautiful example of how an honest relationship works, with the warts and all. I spent almost every one of their interactions thinking about how much I wanted to give this book to the young women in my life, and I'm deifnitely planning on doing so when it comes out.
The family aspect
There are two very different families in The Boy Most Likely To: Tim's distant and emotionally repressed family, and the chaotic, love of the Garretts.
Fitpatrick does an amazing job of showing the interpersonal dynamics of both, including her tacit recognition that Tim's family shouldn't necessarily be viewed as bad; their lack of outward emotion has just been a way they've learned to cope with one another. They do still love each other in their way, even if it's not what Tim needs.
Similarly, Fitzpatrick also acknowledges that as much as Tim may love the Garretts, it can be incredibly exhausting being such a member of a bustling family dynamic. We see Alice's sheer exhaustion at trying to handle them day in and day out, and it's with genuine appreciation when her sacrifices are acknowledge, and she's told to concentrate on, and support her own dreams.
Fitzpatrick ultimately understands that no family is perfect, and it's our ability to appreciate them for what they are, that helps us grow as individuals.
Without giving spoilers away, Fitzpatrick has written a pitch-perfect ending. It's beautifully realistic, but also leaves readers with the wonderful understanding that there is so much more left on the horizon for both Tim and Alice. This isn't the end of their stories; the future awaits.
Things that didn't work/Things to consider:
While I thought Tim's overall character arc was beautifully done, I did have some issues with his initial reaction to Cal. Considering just how crafty, quick-thinking and adept Tim has proven to be in the past, I did think it was weird that he didn't initially think to challenge paternity at all. He's in such a tough position to begin with; why add a baby to the mix?
However, the argument can also be made that because Tim has lost/run away from so much, he inadvertently sees this as a opportunity to prove that he's a force of stability for once. So it's really up to a person's individual intepretation.
Tim's journey is that of the modern-day everyman, showing the highs and lows of burgeoning adulthood and how just because life has prescribed a certain role for you, it doesn't mean that it's the one you need to keep. Alice also learns the importance of taking care of herself, and how her dreams and relationships matter just as much as those of her family.
I highly recommend this book for all contemporary fans, full stop. I also recommend the book for readers who are looking for a realistic, genuinely heartfelt romance. Tim and Alice understand the genuine ups-and-downs of a burgeoning relationship, and it's a genuine joy to see them working it out.
And we'll up the ante. If you leave a comment on the review, we'll enter you to win a finished copy of the book.
(Yes, we bought one since we want others to love it too!)
About the author:
Huntley Fitzpatrick always wanted to be a writer, ever since growing up in a small coastal Connecticut town much like those in My Life Next Door, What I Thought I Was True, and The Boy Most Likely To. After college she worked in many fields, including academic publishing and as an editor at Harlequin. Huntley is currently a full-time writer and mom to six children. She lives in coastal Massachusetts.