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Monday, March 20, 2017

Release & Review - By Your Side by Kasie West

Image and blurb from Goodreads
Title: By Your Side
Author: Kasie West
Category/Genre: Young Adult Contemporary Romance
Publication Date: January 31st, 2017
Publisher: HarperTeen
When Autumn Collins finds herself accidentally locked in the library for an entire weekend, she doesn’t think things could get any worse. But that’s before she realizes that Dax Miller is locked in with her. Autumn doesn’t know much about Dax except that he’s trouble. Between the rumors about the fight he was in (and that brief stint in juvie that followed it) and his reputation as a loner, he’s not exactly the ideal person to be stuck with. Still, she just keeps reminding herself that it is only a matter of time before Jeff, her almost-boyfriend, realizes he left her in the library and comes to rescue her.

Only he doesn’t come. No one does.

Instead it becomes clear that Autumn is going to have to spend the next couple of days living off vending-machine food and making conversation with a boy who clearly wants nothing to do with her. Except there is more to Dax than meets the eye. As he and Autumn first grudgingly, and then not so grudgingly, open up to each other, Autumn is struck by their surprising connection. But can their feelings for each other survive once the weekend is over and Autumn’s old life, and old love interest, threaten to pull her from Dax’s side?

Buy Links: Amazon
3.5 “Libraries and Distractions” Stars 

Well, this wasn’t at all what I expected, but it was still a fun read. By Your Side is my fourth or fifth (maybe sixth) book by Kasie West, and while it probably my least favorite one, it reminded me why I like this author this much. Mrs. West managed to make a book with a character suffering from anxiety disorder a light read, which isn’t an easy thing to do.

I went into this book expecting the library to be the setting for most of the story. The blurb will tell you all about how Autumm and Dax get locked up in the library for an extended weekend. So here I was thinking this was going to be one of those books with a restricted timeline, where characters are forced to spend hours together getting to know each other. It even reminded me of that Dawson’s Creek episode. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, please go watch Dawson’s Creek:

Someone should write a book using the premise from that supermarket episode.

Anyway… So I thought the entire book with focus on them locked up and falling in love in 3/4 days. And you know what? I didn’t doubt Kasie West could do that. She’s the queen of cute, fun and light YA contemporary romance. My body was ready.

Except, that wasn’t how it happened at all.

Sure, Autumm and Dax spent the weekend locked in the library. They were hesitant to get close to each other at first (Dax more than Autumm), then they shared food and a sleeping bag. They got to know each other, they asked questions (Autumm more than Dax), they shared things they hadn’t shared with many people before. They were cute and shippable, but they still left me wanting more. Then they were out of the library and I felt a little cheated.

I wanted more. I thought the story could’ve gone a lot of different places while they were stuck in the same place. The library had so much promise, why let them out so soon?

But, yeah, they had to come out because something bad really happened. So here’s where the review gets a little spoilery (I’ll try to keep it generic, so I don’t reveal too much).

Something bad happens to someone Autumm knows and likes, and when she hears about it, she has a panic attack, leading Dax to take matters into his own hands and find a way to get them out of there ASAP. From that moment on, the story takes a different turn and a “sort of” love triangle takes the center stage. I’m not a love triangle hater (on the contrary), but here, it didn’t work for me. In my mind, there was just no way Autumm would choose anyone other than Dax, so it just felt like a plot device instead of anything else.
In a sense, I guess that’s exactly what it was. The triangle was less about love and possibilities, and more about Autumm dealing with her anxiety. Autumm’s disorder was something that came out of the blue for me, because I didn’t see any hints in the first few pages, so when she thought about it or showed symptons for the first time, I was a little surprised.

After that initial shock, I thought Kasie West dealed with Autumm’s anxiety disorder in a very light and respectable way. It was definitely an important subject and a big theme throughout the story, and the author and the main character didn’t shy away from it. Autumm’s journey involved a lot of growth in a short amount of time, and I liked how Dax and her family supported her through it all.

Her relationship with her parents and her brother was adorable. I was a fan of how close she seemed to be of her brother. A good sibling bond is always a plus for me.

But, like all Kasie West’s contemporaries, this was a romance story above all. It was the story of how Autumm and Dax fell in love. Although it went differently than what I had anticipated, the endgame was the same: I was rooting for them and couldn’t want to see them finally get together. I enjoyed all of their interactions, from the games at the library to her teaching him how to drive, from the hugs to the kisses, from the “we’re just distractions” to “we’re together”.

Dax was a good love interest. He was the bad boy, brooding hero with a tough backstory, the cute guy who kept everyone at arm’s length because of his tragic past. But he also respected and understood Autumm better than her long-time friends. Like Autumm, I liked him a lot.

So, while this didn’t follow the route I thought it would, this book still made me swoon and smile. It touched an important subject without coming across as preachy or insensitive, which is another win. It’s Kasie West, so there was no way I wouldn’t like it.
*If you liked this review (or not), if you read the book (or not), come say hello and leave your comments bellow.

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