Book Review: By Your Side

Rating: Fire starstarstar

by-your-sideEver since I saw the bio for this book, I’ve been excited for it.  First of all , it’s written by Kasie West, one of my all time favorites. And second of all, it featured a trapped in a library together romance. Swoon.

But, as much as it kills me to say this (I currently have a guilt knot in my stomach), I didn’t love this book. I think it was the incongruence between what I expected and what I got. Because the book itself wasn’t awful at all (as shown by my rating, it still was hot), but it was;t what I was expecting, and I don;t think it met the high standards Kasie West has set for herself. 

From the bio, it sounds like the entire book (or at least a majority of it) will be a weekend spent in the library, learning about each other and falling in love. But be warned: this book is not about falling in love in a library. Only about a third of the book actually takes place in the library.  The library is the only reason they actually meet, but it isn’t a character unto itself, if that makes any sense.There were no swoonworthy bookworm scenes, which my book nerd was dying for. There was no aspect of the library that really impacted the story at all besides just being a public building they were locked in. I actually liked the part after the library better. 

Dax was cute. But that was almost the problem with him. He was painted to be this rebellious, troubled, bad boy, but during the library suddenly does a 180 and now he’s cute, observant, and friendly. Granted, only towards Autumn, but still. It wasn’t really a gradual thing. Autumn notes earlier that his smiles were rare and hard-earned. After he and Autumn play poker, he seems to always be smiling or laughing. And while it was cute, it just didn’t fit. However, the moments where he let out his mischievous, kind of wild side were very melty, and he gets props for that.

Autumn was different than Kasie West’s other heroines. The big thing is that she suffers from anxiety disorder, but littler things about her personality make her different. While West’s other heroines are sassy, bold, and loyal to the bone, Autumn is more tame. She’s sweet, funny, bubbly, and smart, but definitely doesn’t have that bite to her West’s other heroines have. But she did remind me a lot of myself, so maybe that’s why I liked her. She wasn’t sarcastic funny like Caymen was, but she still made me laugh out loud with her silly attitude. She comes across as happy and enjoying life, not a troubled, cynical teenage girl we see a lot of now in YA. 

The main plot of this story is Autumn choosing between Jeff, her before library crush, and Dax, her after library crush. There are some circumstances surrounding Jeff that made this a difficult choice, but I ultimately think West handled the love triangle well. And I genuinely liked Jeff as a person. He seemed like a happy, fun, and good person to be around. Lisa also was a great best friend, understanding Autumn. 

“You’re my best friend. I would never hate you. I’m team Autumn all the way. No matter what you decide I’ll be on your side”

Lisa

This is the attitude all best friends need to adopt. But besides Jeff and Lisa, there wasn’t much character development done to the friends. Dallin seemed like a harmless goofball until later into the story, but I just wish West had fleshed out his character more and had some closure between Autumn and Dallin. Morgan and Avi were two interchangeable “best friends” Autumn had who just didn’t add anything to the story, and Zach just seemed like another idiot. So that was kind of disappointing, seeing such a large group of friends but only two (three?) of them having actual personalities. 

After the library, Dax and Autumn do have a cute relationship, although Dax is just so different from his original personality. But Autumn’s persistence to be friends, the bracelets, cronuts, and distractions are just a few of the cute and symbolic moments Kasie West weaved into the story. 

I love how Autumn’s choice ultimately came with an understanding of herself and what she needs. She had been hiding her anxiety disorder from her friends, and the reveal of her disorder ultimately leads to some self-awareness and a change in direction. 

“I wanted to be with him for so long that I looked past the way he made me feel when I was with him-always on edge, worrying what he’d do or say next. I didn’t notice the difference until I met someone who helps me relax.”

Autumn

Just to wrap things up, I would still recommend this book, even with my mixed feelings, I think if you knew that the book wasn’t going to be a trapped in the library turned romance book the entire time, you would enjoy it, and ultimately it was my expectations that got me in trouble. Kasie West’s writing style is, as always, superb, and Autumn’s family is perfectly supportive, and there are enough swoon worthy scenes sprinkled in there to please any girl. 

Have you read this book? What did you think about it compared to Kasie West’s previous books? Let me know in the comments below!

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Check out my Rating Descriptions so you aren’t confused!

 

 

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