Title: By Your Side
Author: Kasie West
Published by: Harper Teen (January 31, 2017)
Pages: 342 (Paperback)
I really enjoy Kasie West’s books. I don’t think they are the best written things about there – and they often don’t have a ton of depth. However, they are compulsively readable, adorable romances.
By Your Side follows the story of Autumn Collins who finds herself locked in a library for the weekend with the last person she’d want to be stuck with. Autumn doesn’t know much about Dax except what the rumors say – he’s trouble. Autumn figures its only a matter of time before her almost-boyfriend figures out that she got left behind and comes back for her. When he doesn’t, Autumn realizes that she will have to spend the weekend surviving on what she can find the break room fridge and trying to make conversation with a boy who doesn’t want to give her the time of day. But, as with most contemporary romances they begin to open up and learn that their is more to both of them than meets the eye.
“You’re not a big talker.”
“I talk when I have things to say.”
“Was that supposed to be insightful?”
“It wasn’t supposed to be anything but an answer.”
Autumn has a general anxiety disorder. And, as someone who doesn’t suffer from anxiety, I can’t tell you if it is good representation not. What I can tell you is that I really enjoyed seeing Autumn’s character growth as she deals with her anxiety and beings standing up for herself with her friends. I also loved how supportive Autumn’s family was. I hate the absent parent trope you see a lot in YA, so it was nice to see a supportive and involved family.
I also thought the romance between Autumn and Dax was really adorable. I’m a sucker for a good hate-to-love romance. And, I really like that Dax didn’t “fix” Autumn’s anxiety. I don’t like to see mental illnesses romanticized or seen as something that magically disappears when you get a boyfriend.
“There was something very satisfying about a smile that had to be earned.”
There are some things I didn’t like. I don’t think the characters were particularly well developed. All we know about Autumn is that she has an anxiety disorder and loves photography. Dax is a pretty cliche loner bad-boy type. And, the only real thing we know about Autumn’s friends is that they’re horrible. Seriously – she has terrible friends. It drives me crazy that their are no real repercussions of their actions.
I also think the book totally underutilized the library setting. I mean, Autumn doesn’t even enjoy reading. This story could have been set literally anywhere else without actually changing the story. Which is kinda bummer. And, to enjoy this story you will have to be able to suspend your disbelieve that Autumn wasn’t able to find a phone or computer that works – or be willing to break a window to climb out.
“‘Books, bringing people together.’ That would make a good slogan for the library.”
I will still continue to read anything Kasie West writes. They are the perfect read when you just want something fun and sweet. I really liked that she touched on some pretty important topics like anxiety and child abandonment – but I think she left a lot of cards on the table. And, I just wanted a bit more.