Published by HarperTeen on January 31st 2017
Source: Publisher, Edelweiss
Genres: Contemporary, Romance, Young Adult
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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?
I’ve loved all of Kasie West’s cute contemporary romance novels and By Your Side was no exception. It was fast-paced and adorable and the first half of the book was set inside a library! The novel begins when our main character, Autumn, is locked inside her local library after using the bathroom. Her belongings and her phone are outside with her friends (and her long-time crush) but Autumn is certain that someone will come and find her. When none of her friends come to find her, Autumn realises that they’ve left without noticing that she was missing. Stuck inside the library for a long weekend, Autumn has no food or means of contacting anyone. But things are made worse when she finds Dax, the school’s bad boy is locked in there with her. And he doesn’t seem to have any intentions of wanting to leave…
What I love most about Kasie West’s books is that she tries to incorporate more serious issues into her fluffy contemporary novels. By Your Side has a mental illness and anxiety aspect to it, which I appreciated. It’s definitely not a book that’s about anxiety and it doesn’t explore or represent anxiety in the most thorough and accurate manner but I do appreciate that it’s there. The book also explores foster care and kids who grow up in the system, and I highly enjoyed this aspect of the book. It was probably my favourite thing about the story and it made me want to know about certain characters more because of it. I liked that these issues gave the characters a bit more dimension because they could have easily come across as a bit bland. I just wish the issues could have been explored a little bit more. But then I guess it’s no longer a cute, fluffy contemporary?
I thought the romance in the book developed in a very realistic way. I liked that it transitioned from tentativeness to friendship to romance and I was definitely on board with it. What I wasn’t a big fan of was the love triangle in the book because at this point, I’m honestly a bit sick of the trope. I didn’t like the role that Autumn’s crush/almost-boyfriend played in the story and I would have much preferred it if the story had gone down a different route. However, I thought it was ultimately handled in a way that I enjoyed or didn’t mind and I was happy with the ending.
I liked the characters in By Your Side a lot. Autumn wasn’t my favourite protagonist but I thought she was relatable. I didn’t think her anxiety was portrayed very well and I think that was one of the reasons why I fell a little bit short of fully connecting with her. However, I absolutely loved Dax and even though he started off as the stereotypical bad boy/loner from school, he grew into a character who was extremely interesting and his scenes were my favourite in the book. As for the side characters, I wasn’t a fan of any of Autumn’s friends. I didn’t really understand how none of them managed to notice that Autumn was missing, and because of that, I wasn’t a big fan of her friendship group from the start of the book.
By Your Side is not my favourite of Kasie West’s books but I still highly enjoyed the read. It was really quick to read and I really liked the story and the main characters for the most part. There were some aspects of the plot that I found a little unrealistic but overall, it was an enjoyable read that I would recommend to anyone looking for something quick and cute.
Rating: 4 out of 5
Thank you to HarperTeen for the review copy through Edelweiss.