By Your Side by Kasie West
Publication Date: January 31, 2017
Rating: 4 stars
Source: ARC sent by the publisher
Summary (from Goodreads):
In this irresistible story, Kasie West explores the timeless question of what to do when you fall for the person you least expect. Witty and romantic, this paperback original from a fan favorite is perfect for fans of Stephanie Perkins and Morgan Matson.
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?
What I Liked:
Kasie West does it again! This is the seventh novel of hers that I've read, and I enjoyed it. I can always rely on West to deliver a cute, swoony, uplifting, and meaningful story. I love how she tackles certain "tough issues", and yet captivates readers with likable characters and a beautiful story. Suffice it to say, I'm addicted!
It's Friday evenning, and Autumn and her friends had just finished up working on a big paper. They decide to leave the library and go to a bonfire. With a huge group and four different cars, it can get confusing. Autumn doubles back to the library to use the bathroom, leaving her bag and belongings in her crush's car. But when she is finished and goes to leave the library, she realizes that the library is locked down and closed. What's more, her friends are gone. And it's snowing. And it's the weekend of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day... which means she's going to be stuck in the library for three days. No phone, no service, no computer, nothing. She quickly finds out that Dax Miller, a loner who has trouble written all over him, is locked in as well. He's closed off and a boy of few words, but Autumn cracks his exterior as the weekend goes on. They survive the weekend together - but can they survive the aftermath?
Autumn is as wonderful as any of West's other female protagonists. She has quick wit and she's funny. But she's also a little awkward and clumsy, and she suffers from anxiety. She gets panic attacks, and she doesn't want any of her friends to know. While she's in the library, she has panic attacks, and she tells Dax. Autumn really cares about what others think of her, which is why she hasn't told any of her friends about her condition. Autumn is sweet and genuine, and she's also relentless. She is determined to make nice with Dax while they're stuck in the library,
Dax is... at first, a mystery. He has a reputation for being trouble; he spent time in juvie, and he lives with foster parents. People say he's a criminal (he's not), a druggie (he's not), a loner (that, he is). He keeps to himself and opens up to no one... but Autumn gets to him. He reveals why he's in the library, and a lot more. Dax is probably the most "troubled" of any of West's male protagonists, with the most difficult past/present. He seems closed off and emotionless, but he's a very considerate and chivalrous guy, and he's straightforward.
Contrary to what I originally thought, this book does not take place entirely in the library during that three-day weekend. Half of the book is spent in the library with just Dax and Autumn, and the other half is spent in the "after". What happens when Dax and Autumn are back in school? Are they friends? Do they go back to ignoring each other? Will Autumn finally get with Jeff?
I don't want to give away any details about the middle to end of the book, but I loved the second half of the book probably just as much as (if not more so) I loved the first half. Dax and Autumn become closer (as friends) in the library, but they grow more closer after the library. They need each other for different reasons, and I loved seeing them rely on each other.
Speaking of, I loved the romance. It's all Dax and Autumn, despite what the synopsis sort of implies. Autumn had a crush on Jeff, who is a genuinely nice guy. But she never really likes him, and realizes that he isn't for her. Dax is a steady, calming presence that Autumn needs and wants, and she really likes him. Autumn is a ray of sunshine for Dax, and he really likes her. I always want more kissy scenes in West's books, and this book was no exception, but I adored the progression of the romance!
So, no love triangle! Just a whole lot of swoon between Dax and Autumn. Subtle swoon, at first. And then obvious swoon.
I also loved how West handled anxiety and panic attacks. There are a few scenes in which Autumn experiences a panic attack, and I thought West captured those moments really well. My heart broke for Autumn, but at the same time, I love how strong she is. West also handles Dax's backstory well. I don't want to say too much about Dax, but let's just say that he has a difficult past, and again, West writes in those issues well.
West also does a great job with portraying a lot of solid friendships! Autumn's bond with her friend Lisa is sweet and rock-solid. Autumn has a large friend group and it's often hard to connect directly and personally with all of them, and I think West does a great job of expressing this kind of friendships (the large groups, as well as the best friend).
So! Good characterization, good character development, fun story, cute romance? Sold. I liked this book a lot. It's probably not a new favorite of West's (then again, I really love them all), but it does not disappoint. I am looking forward to reading her next book (Lucky in Love, with Scholastic)!
What I Did Not Like:
Nothing specific coming to mind! I suppose I wish there were more kissy scenes (heh). But that seems to be West's style, and that's completely fine!
Would I Recommend It:
Whether you like YA contemporary or not... I would always put West's book on my recommended list. I've read seven of seven and I have yet to be disappointed. I am not a YA contemporary person, but West is my #1 auto-buy author (and she doesn't just read YA contemporary, mind you!). If you love her books, then this one won't disappoint!
4.5 stars -> rounded down to 4 stars. This book has such a cute premise (stuck in the library!), and West really delivered. Uplifting and mesmerizing, By Your Side is sure to leave readers with a smile on their face!
Was this review helpful? Please let me know in the comments section!