The Girl Next Door

The Girl Next Door by Selene CastrovillaThe Girl Next Door

by Selene Castrovilla
(WestSide Books, 2010)

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In THE GIRL NEXT DOOR, two teens are forced to make some very grown-up decisions when one of them is diagnosed with terminal cancer.Sixteen year old Samantha has been best friends with seventeen year old Jesse since she moved into the New York high-rise apartment next door to his thirteen years ago. Jesse is their school’s poster child for popularity: good-looking, a star athlete, even Romeo in the school play. On opening night he collapses on stage. That’s when doctors discover the unthinkable: a tumor on his spine. His type of cancer is virtually incurable – 97% of those diagnosed die within ten months.Jesse shuts down, refusing to see most of his friends. He submits to treatments of chemo and radiation, but he doesn’t possess hope. Sam is the one person he’ll talk to. He convinces his mom to let her sleep in another bed in his room, saying he’s afraid to die alone.That’s when Jess and Sam make a startling, bittersweet discovery: they’ve been in love all along.THE GIRL NEXT DOOR addresses the universal question: In an unpredictable world, how can we possibly feel safe?

Awards & Honors

Best YA Books of 2010: A Literary Mixtape – GalleyCat

Praise for The Girl Next Door

“The Girl Next Door author, Selene Castrovilla, has written a fine Teen novel dealing with love between a dying boy and his girlfriend.  Selene’s writing is crisp and tight and teens (especially girls) will quickly become immersed in her story about friendship, commitment, loss and facing life’s realities.  The Girl Next Door tells a bittersweet tale between two teens who must carve a full-fledged relationship from a small allotment of time, learning about each other and themselves along the way.  Readers who like this genre of fiction will love this book!”
Lurlene McDaniel, author of DON’T DIE, MY LOVE

“Have you read this book yet? Be warned. It is both romantic and sad. It grabbed me emotionally and I ended up holding someone’s hand while I read. I was hooked so thoroughly that I was afraid my emotions would get out of control and I’d start weeping while we rode in the car. If you have students requesting sad books, romantic books, and realistic titles, add The Girl Next Door to your YA list.

Author Selene Castrovilla does a tremendous job of sharing the difficulties of undergoing cancer treatment as well as the emotional needs care-givers experience, too. Her characters are realistic and direct. It is easy for the reader to connect. Fans of Lurlene McDaniel and teens will devour this title. This is an author to watch.”
Diane Chen¸ School Library Journal “Practically Paradise” blog

“With occasional subtle humor, Castrovilla avoids melodrama as Jesse and Sam both deal with their anger, fear, jealousy, and insecurities; learn to take care of themselves while taking care of each other; and explore and find faith and peace in an uncontrollable world. Reminiscent of Lurlene McDaniel’s novels, this look at first love is at once heartrending and healing.”
Booklist Online

“Castrovilla captures the mind and soul of a teenage girl dealing with the loss of the greatest friend she has ever had and the love of her young life. Love, sex, and raw emotion come into play as Castrovilla sets the stage for a heartbreaking love story.”

“Author Selene Castrovilla shares a gripping tale that will deeply touch the reader. The Girl Next Door will stay on your mind and remain in your heart for a long time.”
The Sacramento Book Review

“There are books that move you, but then there are books that move you so much that you aren’t even sure where to begin in a review … From the beginning of page one, to the very last word on the last page, you will be swept up in the pain, love and honesty that the author brings to the book.”
My Overstuffed Bookshelf

“…make no mistake, this is a heartbreaking love story that will remain with you long after you’ve finished the last page. Ms. Castrovilla snared my attention with her fantastic story, Saved by the Music, but in The Girl Next Door, she’s made a fan for life.”
Aurora Reviews

“…the entire plot plays out in a surprising, stunning manner. The final outcome is written exceptionally well, the entire story and last words reverberating for days after the book is put aside. The way Jesse’s condition affects not only him but those around him is portrayed, as is both his and Sam’s fight and desperation. This is a very moving and emotional read and a beautiful example of how one diagnosis can tear a world apart.”
A Good Addiction

“This book is the inverse of Jenny Downham’s Before I Die, focusing on the person left behind instead of the one dying, and it is equally as powerful. I don’t want to compare the two, because the stories are definitely different, but I can’t help but connect them in my head because of the fact that they deal with many of the same themes and ideas. Because of the strong emotions on display The Girl Next Door isn’t an easy read, but it is definitely a good read.”
Café Saturday



Jesse’s dying.
The doctors are 96% sure of it. They even have a time-line.
Seven months. They give him seven months, tops.
I try to hold on to hope, but 4% is a weak reed to cling to while you’re thrashing to keep your head above water.
I caught Jesse crying one morning when he thought I was sleeping. Gwen, his mom, lets me stay over because he’s afraid to be alone. He doesn’t want to die alone.
I sleep in his old locker bed. It’s on a low to the ground iron frame with wheels. He sleeps in his new hospital bed. It’s high from the ground, with thick silver bars on the sides and fake wood paneling on the headboard. It’s ugly and depressing, but sometimes he’s in a lot of pain, and he can move his bed into different positions to get more comfortable.
That morning, I woke to the sound of his bed whirring. Then came the slight scrape on metal as he slid the plastic pot off the edge of his locker bedside table.
He heaved. He heaves a decent amount from all the chemo crap they put him through.
Then he gargled with the water Maria, the housekeeper, leaves next to the pot every night.
All of a sudden he made this kind of wounded noise and I thought he was gonna heave again, but he was sobbing.
You can’t blame him. One minute he was the star baseball player in high school, class president and the first junior to be editor of the school newspaper. All down the rows of slamming lockers at Midland Prep you could always hear the name Jesse Parker. Girls wanted to date him. Guys wanted to hang with him to get the excess girls.
The next minute, he was being radiated like Hiroshima, even though the doctors said he was probably gonna die anyway.
They’re torturing my best friend.
I cracked my eyes open. The sun shined in through his window, right on his shelves of trophies and awards on the wall facing us. A beautiful Saturday morning. Jesse should have been buttoning his blue and yellow pinstriped uniform, pushing his cap with the navy “M” on it over his curly black hair, lacing his cleats, grabbing his bat and heading into the park. Instead, the uniform and cap hung at the back of his closet, the cleats were tossed who knew where, the bat leaned in the far corner, and Jess lay in bed, some days barely able to walk.
He probably won’t make it to eighteen. He’ll never even get to vote.
I didn’t know whether I should open my eyes fully or not. He might get embarrassed. Or maybe he wanted me to wake up.
I decided to do it.

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