Guest Writer Gabi Sant’Anna Recommends A Short History of the Girl Next Door by Jared Reck
Told from the perspective of Matt Wainwright, an endearing 15-year-old basketball fanatic, this novel is both lighthearted and heartbreaking. Through a series of funny, relatable stories, Matt recounts the shift in his relationship with his next-door neighbour Tabby, from childhood best friend to a hopeful love interest.
He tells stories of playing with Tabby as young kids, sorting their Halloween candy into specific categories, riding the school bus together since elementary school, starting high school, and many other moments that made him realize he had fallen in love with her. For Matt, no memory is more devastating than the one when he saw a black car parked in front of Tabby’s house belonging to the school’s “it” guy, telling him someone else had figured out how amazing she was, too.
For a large part of the book, Matt’s narration captivates the reader and has them rooting for him to reveal his true feelings and hoping for the couple to live happily ever after. But that’s not always how life works. Just when you think you know what will happen, a shocking tragedy strikes that leaves Matt on a downward spiral, and the reader in a fit of rage.
This novel is a beautiful depiction of a likeable character doing his best to deal with the hardships life throws at him. There is no correct way to grieve but Matt’s journey is a great example for students to reflect upon, and potentially relate to. I believe anyone who picks up this book will be able to take something from it.
My name is Gabi Sant’Anna and I’m a first year English teacher at McAdam High School. I’ve always considered myself a reader but teaching English this year has taken my love of reading to the next level! My students know I’m always up for talking about a good book.