by Katie Van Ark
Age Range: 12 - 18 years
Grade Level: 7 and up
Paperback: 288 pages
Publisher: Swoon Reads (February 3, 2015)
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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 gold–maybe even making it to the Olympics! So he’s decided to think of her as a sister. After all, family is forever, but 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 break-up that Gabe has always feared?
The Boy Next Door is an incredibly cute story about Maddy and Gabe’s relationship on and off the ice. As professional skaters striving to win the gold at Worlds, they can’t take the risk of falling in love and watching what they have slowly crash and burn. It could cost them the medal that they are working extremely hard to achieve. So close to reaching their goal, getting into a relationship with one another now could be detrimental to their career and their future as pair skaters. Is it worth the risk?
The opening to the novel did a great job at setting up the direction of the plot, conflict, etc. Though Gabe’s thoughts at first are unclear and some of his actions and comments to and about Maddy are somewhat random, I was glad to see the reasoning explained near the end of the book. The explanation was a bit unclear at first, but it was eventually told straightforward to Maddy herself.
I also would’ve liked to have a bit more description of the pair’s routines; I had a hard time picturing them (most were only given one or two sentences of description per each practice or performance). What I also wish was included were more flashback scenes from Maddy and Gabe’s childhood so I could better understand their feelings towards one another and why they feel the way they do, as we were only given one or two of these. In addition, I found select dialogue throughout the novel to be slightly cheesy.
Overall, however; I enjoyed reading The Boy Next Door and seeing the course of Maddy and Gabe’s relationship map itself out. The plot was well-developed, the pacing was great, and I loved seeing all of the skating metaphors: they were super adorable and fit the story well. The ending was fitting and the imagery of the final skating scene was highly descriptive. If you’re a fan of skating or looking for a realistic (and adorable!) love story about two teens, I suggest you give The Boy Next Door a try!
-Review by J-