I am reading the third book from author Huntley Fitzpatrick, The Boy Most Likely To, and I am ready to write my own most likely list:
Alice, the girl most likely to:
Make me want to reach inside the book and slap you
Make me want to hurl the book across the room
Make me want pretend you don’t exist and just read the Tim chapters
Make me give up reading Huntley Fitzpatrick books
Oh, Alice. Let me let you in on a secret that’s not really a secret. You are not Tim’s mother. You’re not anyone’s mother, so please stop acting like it. Figure out who you are and what you want already because you are driving me crazy.
I’m going to sound repetitive because I said the same thing about Fitzpatrick’s last book, but I don’t get this character at all. Alice makes no sense to me. She orders her siblings around like an Army drill sergeant, yet flops like a fish out of water when it comes to her own life. The little glimpses Fitzpatrick gives us of this character aren’t enough to garner relatability or interest or sympathy. I feel like I am being kept in the dark on things that aren’t mysterious enough to not be revealed, yet would make the character more relatable if they were revealed.
At this point, (I am half-way through it) the whole book would be better if it just focused on Tim. Now there’s a character who has plenty of material to easily fill an entire novel, no Alice-filler necessary.
So, that was how I felt at the halfway point, and now that I am finished reading that is still how I feel. While Alice did get slightly more tolerable, she was still underdeveloped. I never felt like I understood her or what made her the way she was. A lot of her “problems” were those of her own making. Her father sums it up best when he says, “none of these battles are yours to fight.” And he’s right. That is why parents are parents. The overdue bills are not her problem, her umpteen siblings are not her problem, her dad’s rehab and recovery are not her responsibility and neither is Tim. She was just so frustrating that I found myself disappointed when I turned a page and the story was back to her POV.
Tim, on the other hand, was a well-developed and instantly likable character who had a true battle ahead of him: sobriety, his father’s pending deadline, his surprise “party favor.” His relationship with Cal was beautiful and endearing. He was far from perfect and made so many mistakes, but he just kept trying and trying. I liked his uncertainty and his self-doubt and his determination, though I never could wrap my head around his attraction to Alice. It’s too bad Fitzpatrick couldn’t write a female character who was equal to (and deserving of) him.
While the Boy Most Likely To is far better than What I Thought Was True, I still think My Life Next Door is Fitzpatrick’s best book. I kind of want to go back and reread it, but at the same time I am almost afraid to. What if it isn’t as good as I remember? What if I end up disliking Samantha the way I dislike Alice? Maybe I’ll just move on to some other book and keep my happy memories of MLND.