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The Girl Next Door by Selene Castrovilla

The Girl Next Door (edition 2010)

by Selene Castrovilla (Author)

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527337,122 (3.3)None
Title:The Girl Next Door
Authors:Selene Castrovilla (Author)
Info:Westside Books (2010), 240 pages
Collections:To read
Tags:to-read, tbf-authors

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The Girl Next Door by Selene Castrovilla


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“Is it better to be numb, to feel none of the pain we’re in? Would I want to live like that, if I could? Would that be living? Or is it better to just stop walking?”

Honestly, this book fell completely flat and broke its own spine, the poor dear. The story starts with Samantha already sleeping over at Jesse’s house as his cancer progresses. Samantha is Jesse’s neighbor and friend since they were toddlers (really, apparently Samantha remembers meeting Jesse in his stroller *eyeroll*). Her personality isn’t bad at first, but as the story progresses she just completely falls flat. The author tried to create a distraught character, but Samantha was all over the place and never developed.

Jesse was a conundrum. He wanted nothing to do with anyone except Samantha (even though they were only friends at the time), hated his mother, and then suddenly *gasp* “I had sex with Sam OMG I love her sooooo much!!!!”

Then somewhere out of the blue he has a religious revelation, but it still doesn’t stop them from shagging behind his mom’s back every chance they get.

Speaking of dear old mom, the parents in this book are ridiculous. Okay, so, most YA book parents are basically place holders anyway, but these parents are way out there. Jesse’s mother is somehow smothering and absent at the same time, while Samantha’s parents are mildly condemning one minute and fully on her side the next. It’s enough to give the reader whiplash with how they pull 180s!

There are a few sweet moments, and moments that are really serious pertaining to Jesse’s condition, but it’s not enough to make up for the lack of character depth and development for my taste. ( )
  ReadingBifrost | Jun 3, 2015 |
(Received from the author in exchange for an honest review)

What a beautiful, amazing emotional story of dealing with cancer and loss.
The characters were so amazing, and the bonds between Jesse and Sam were so strong, it felt real.
You could see the love they have for each other.
It was very gripping and I loved it.
I was emotionally tied and I completely recommend this book.
This is another book that's made me cry.
  kitkat1242 | Sep 6, 2013 |
Sam, the novel’s narrator, was warm and strong and real. I liked her from the beginning. The other characters, though less dynamic than Sam, were also believable, if a touch cliched. The writing was good about 95% of the time, with just a few spots that made me cringe a little. Hey, it happens.

The story is as much Sam’s as Jesse’s. Yes, Jesse is the sick one, and time is given to his feelings. But I would say that more emphasis is placed on Sam and her struggle to deal with Jesse’s illness. I am thankful never to have been in a situation like Sam’s, so I’m not in a place to judge accuracy, but her reactions and thoughts felt very genuine to me. I found myself rooting for her to work through her issues just as much as I was rooting for Jesse to get well.

If you enjoy books along these lines, I think The Girl Next Door would be a great choice. If books like these make your toes curl and provoke involuntary shudders, best to stay away. I fall somewhere in between, and my reaction was correspondingly neutral: I didn’t love the book, but I didn’t hate it either. I think illness can be a tough topic to tackle in a novel, and I certainly wasn’t disappointed with Castrovilla’s execution. ( )
  erelsi183 | Nov 11, 2010 |
Girl Next Door is the more grown-up version of those really sad books everyone reads for a while in junior high. Death is more than a possible ending for this book; it is practically the setting and a main character as well. Jesse and his mother are, of course, consumed by Jesse's sickness, but so is their housekeeper Maria, Sam, and Sam's mother and little brother. Sam especially. She starts to fail out of school, she moves into Jesse's room, and she lets everything that is not Jesse fall to the wayside. She desperately wants Jesse to live, but she knows that it's very possible that she has years and years to catch up on things like high school while she may only have months (if she's lucky) to spend time with Jesse.

It is unbearably sad.

More sad than the situation itself is the way that Sam deals with it. She truly becomes a shell of herself, her sole purpose to make Jesse as happy and as comfortable as possible. The prime example of this, and one that causes more than a few problems for both Jess and Sam, is that she crawls into bed with him based on nothing more than her lifelong crush and Jesse's wish to not die a virgin. He doesn't fall in love with her until afterward. With that kind of a set-up, of course she doubts Jesse's feelings for her! She's available and willing to put out (and make sandwiches and clean when he pukes them up later) all the time. Even though her doubts linger for a whole lot of the book, Sam never backs up, sets boundaries, or ASKS Jesse about his feelings for her. She just clings to him all the more. When her mother finally notices that Sam has gone to the bad place over Jesse and over Jesse's illness and makes Sam see a therapist, Sam won't even go to his office without Jesse.

Sam's so desperate throughout the whole book, not only to have Jesse live but to be Jesse's whole life the way he has become hers. To be honest, it made me uncomfortable. I wanted for someone, her mom, her therapist, Jesse, to make Sam see that she needed to be her own person in order to survive when Jesse may not. They all tried, but it never really sunk in. Even when things start to get a little bit better, Sam is still all about Jesse. Their relationship becomes more healthy than it is in the beginning, but Sam is never just Sam.

Still, I don't know that teen readers will have the qualms about Sam that I do, and even with my worry for Sam and discomfort over the way she was portrayed, I was totally sucked into this story. I cried. And I would have eaten this book up when I was in junior high/early high school. It is a really good sad story.

Book source: Review copy from publisher ( )
  lawral | Aug 27, 2010 |
Reviewed by Jaglvr for TeensReadToo.com

Are you a fan of Lurlene McDaniel? If so, then don't hesitate to pick up THE GIRL NEXT DOOR by Selene Castrovilla. This is a heart-wrenching novel of young love.

Sam(antha) and Jesse live next door to each other in a New York City apartment. They've lived next door ever since they were toddlers. They're best friends. And now, Jesse is battling a rare, terminal form of lymphoma. His prognosis for a cure is an optimistic 4%.

Sam has always been in love with Jesse. But she's stood beside him as he became popular and winning at any sport he played. And she watched as he dated Ms. Perfect Cindy Evans. But they've remained friends. And now, as Jesse battles for his life, Sam is the only person he wants near him.

Jesse's mom avoids him and anything to do with his illness. Sam is there by his side as he struggles through debilitating chemotherapy and nausea. She went from being an honor student to practically failing out. She can't concentrate on school, only wanting to be with Jesse twenty-four hours a day.

As the story progresses, Jesse battles with his anger over his illness and loss of the life he loved. Sam struggles with her guilt and grief. Not only is she watching Jesse disappear in front of her, she is still mourning the loss of her father.

THE GIRL NEXT DOOR is a tear-jerker of a novel in the same vein as most of Ms. McDaniel's work. Ms. Castrovilla portrays the honest struggles of two teens dealing with issues that even those much older would have a hard time coping with. Both Jesse and Sam are hurting, but through it all, they know that they have each other to lean on.

The story contains some mature content, dealing with some frank sexual situations. But the story is not repulsive. Quite the contrary. The situations are used to showcase the point of how fleeting life can be, and how one must live each day to the fullest while one can. ( )
  GeniusJen | Aug 21, 2010 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 193481315X, Hardcover)

While most seniors at her high school are worrying about prom and final exams, seventeen-year-old Sam is desperately trying to save her best friend Jesse's life. He has a rare, treatment-resistant form of cancer, and his odds of survival aren't good, and he may have only ten months left to live. Through every bit of his pain and anguish, Sam has been by his side--through the grueling, aggressive treatments and their awful aftermath, to sleeping in his room at night when he's afraid to be alone. Best friends and neighbors since preschool, Jesse and Sam's friendship is changing--now they're falling in love, and the bond between them grows stronger even as Jesse is weakens. Will they have a happy ending...or will their story end in heartbreak?

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:17:58 -0400)

As seventeen-year-old Sam desperately tries to help her best friend and neighbor Jesse through aggressive treatments for a rare and usually fatal form of cancer, they find themselves falling deeply in love.

(summary from another edition)

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