By Your Side by Kasie West
Published On: January 31, 2017
Published By: HarperTeen
Genre: YA, Contemporary
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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?
Oh Kasie West, I do love you! I make no secret of the fact Kasie West is one of my favourite authors. I have loved every book I have read from her and, of course, this one was no exception. By Your Side fully lived up to the usual standards of her books and definitely met my expectations. I wouldn't say this was my favourite of her books but it is up there.
All I knew going into this book was the two characters getting locked in a library and that immediately drew me in, is that not every book lovers dream? While a somewhat unrealistic scenario, as I have seen many others point out in reviews, I was so much fun to read about. I loved reading about their antics in the library, but I do wish we could have had a little bit more of that before getting into the more serious latter part of the book.
Speaking of the latter part of the book, I was not at all prepared for anything that happened after the library. I wasn't even aware of the fact the story continued on after the characters made it out of the library, let alone all of the drama that followed that. It was such a pleasant surprise to read a whole other aspect of the story I had not anticipated, and I really enjoyed the storyline that followed.
One thing I really appreciated, which became much more of a focus throughout the latter part of the book, was discussion surrounding anxiety. Our main character, Autumn, struggles with anxiety and this aspect was personally quite important to me. I struggle with anxiety in a very similar way as is described in the book. Many of the things Autumn finds the most challenging are those things I struggle with the most, which really emphasised the fact that other people, even if they are fictional in this instance, go through the same things I do and that I am not alone.
Knowing this book dealt with anxiety did put me off reading it for a while. I was worried I wouldn't feel it had been dealt with well, and as Kasie West is one of my favourite authors I would have hated to be disappointed by that. However, I think anxiety was handled really well and the discussion surrounding Autumn's anxiety was quite interesting. I obviously can't speak for everyone but I think this book did a great job of showcasing the real worries of many people, including myself, who struggle with anxiety. Kasie West does a great job of not making it a big thing until Autumn really starts to struggle and it becomes something that needs to be addressed. To me, that really emphasises the fact that anxiety doesn't have to completely take over your life, you can have good times, but when things get bad it is OK to talk about it. Autumn's experiences with her anxiety throughout this book were very realistic to my own, therefore I would consider this to have really good anxiety rep.
Despite this great discussion surrounding anxiety, that seemed to be all Autumn was as a character. She definitely was not the usual Kasie West character, full of personality and wit. In fact, she was pretty bland, just a girl with anxiety. This is disappointing, as I typically love Kasie West's characters. The same also goes for the majority of the side characters as well. They were all pretty bland and had little personality. I can't actually remember any of their names by this point, so they weren't very memorable either.
One character I did love, however, was Dax. I love a bad boy and I love a love/hate romance, both of which this book had. Dax is your typical misunderstood bad boy with a rough home life and a bad reputation, which pretty much makes him my perfect love interest. I just loved Dax, but what I really loved was the way the relationship between Dax and Autumn developed. I was expecting super insta-love, since I thought this book just covered the time in the library, but was pleasantly surprised to discover it was not. Despite knowing they had a connection very early on, their relationship took it's time to develop into something really lovely. I just love all of Kasie West's couples, I can't help it.
Overall, this was a very important book for me. It was much more than your average contemporary romance, with the discussions about anxiety playing an important role, but it was still a very fun and enjoyable read. The characters were not up to Kasie West's usual standards but the storyline and the relationship were, which definitely made up for it. I would highly recommend this book, particularly if you have enjoyed her other books.