Author: Katie Van Ark
Genre: Contemporary, Romance, Young Adult
Rating: 4 Stars
Maddy Spier’s been in love with the boy next door forever. As his figure skating partner, she spends time in his arms every day. But she’s also seen his arms around other girls—lots of other girls. How can she make him realize that they can be partners off the ice as well?
Gabe’s relationship with Maddy is vital. He can’t imagine skating with anyone else, and together, they have a real chance at greatness—maybe even making it to the Olympics someday. So he’s decided to think of her as a sister. After all, family is forever, and he’s never dated anyone for more than two weeks.
Then their coach assigns a new romantic skating program, and everything changes. Will this be the big break that Maddy’s been hoping for or the big breakup that Gabe has always feared?
Find out, as this intensely romantic novel sweeps you off your skates!
WARING – SPOILERS MAY ENSUE BEYOND THIS POINT – REVIEW BELOW
I enjoyed this book more than I thought I would, but not for the reasons I thought I would. The Boy Next Door by Katie Van Ark is a love story between two teens—a pair of figure skaters—that have been best friends and neighbors for their entire lives, but just because they’ve spent their lives close to one another, doesn’t mean they always understand each other.
The book was riddled with misunderstandings, assumptions, and poor choices. If you’re looking for a sweet, romantic, or steamy YA read… keep looking. It’s not that this book doesn’t possess some of those themes—there is a sweet romance. Sometimes there’s romantic moments, and yes, even steamy bits, but that isn’t what this book is about. It’s a very real, honest look at a relationship between two teens that aren’t yet grown up enough to always make the right choices. There is betrayal, lies, misinformation. There’s alcohol, unexpected events, and pushy ex’s. The relationship between Maddy and Gabe is a struggle every step of the way—but that’s part of what I really liked about it. This wasn’t some simple YA read where it’s love at first sight and everything goes perfectly. There were some very real obstacles in this story for the characters to work through.
Technically speaking, the book was well written. The narrative was clean and easy to follow. There weren’t any typo’s or misprints that I spotted, and the character’s actions and dialog made sense. I sunk into the story right away and didn’t come up for air until the last page.
That being said, it wasn’t my favorite YA book. It’s not that there was anything particularly wrong with it, but I generally like my romances a little more “romancey” than what I found here. This book was about the romance between the two main characters, but not in the way I expected. It wasn’t so much about the attraction and longing between the characters as it was about their struggle to figure out their relationship, and how to keep it steady despite the many things that continued to go wrong for them throughout the book. It was a tad more literary than I’m used to in that respect.
Does that make me like the book any less? No—but it’s a different kind of like. This wasn’t the type of book that I’d devour and move on to the next one in the series… but it is a book that makes me appreciate the depth of it’s writing. Overall: I really enjoyed the book. I wish it had been a tad more engaging for me personally, but I’m still very glad I read it. I think The Boy Next Door is perfect for older teens (15+) but I wouldn’t hand it to the younger YA crowd. There is alcohol use, and there is sex involved. It’s not graphic, but it’s not glossed over either. I wouldn’t hand this book to my 11-year-old—but I do think it’s a good book for teens. I think it will give them a lot of things to think about, and I think it really examines the very real ups and downs of teenage relationships without glamorizing it.