Review: By Your Side

By Your Side

 

Oh Kasie West. You could write a grocery list and I would buy a copy of it to read. I had such high, high hopes for your newest contemp. Two teenagers that get locked in a library! Think of the things that could happen! Sadly this book felt like a huge let down and the more I got into it, the more I did not enjoy it.

The story starts with the protagonist, Autumn, getting locked in a library over a long holiday weekend. Autumn quickly discovers that she is not in the library alone, a boy named Dax is locked in with her. Autumn quickly discovers that nobody is going to come looking for her. Autumn does not handle this well as she has an anxiety disorder. It takes Dax coming out of his shell to help keep her calm. Dax isn’t a stranger to Autumn, she knows him from school but they move in different social circles. She has heard the rumors about Dax but now she has the chance to get to know him, if she wants. Dax has had a rough childhood and his teenage years aren’t much better. His mother is a druggie that chose drugs over her child and his dad is not in the picture. Not that anyone knows that much about him because he chooses to keep his private life private. He feels he can open to Autumn and he finally lets someone in. They become friends while stuck in the library and Autumn starts to develop feelings for him, but she keeps them secret because she doesn’t want to upset anyone. She really likes the popular boy, Jeff, but also likes Dax. Can Autumn and Dax’s friendship survive outside of the library weekend?

That sounds great and all but here’s a list of issues I had with this book:

  • NO PHONE OR ALARM IN THE LIBRARY?! What? How could there not be some sort of landline or alarm system? AND! Why did nobody at the library make a sweep of the rooms first before locking up and leaving? They have TV but no phone?
  • Autumn and Dax were stuck in a library but Autumn chooses to ignore the books? I’m sorry but that’s hurtful to book dragons, book worms, book nerds everywhere.
  • The way Autumn’s anxiety disorder was handled was not believable.
  • The connection between Autumn and Dax did not feel real.
  • Autumn’s friends are flat out rude jerks that needs to be slapped.

Let me expand on a couple of items. We’ll start with the library. I still find it incredibly hard to believe that two people will be locked in a library over a three day weekend during cold weather. How are there not closing procedures in place? No alarm or land line phone either? I find that hard to believe. Don’t get me wrong, I’d love to be locked in a library! *heart eye emoji* It felt like a wasted opportunity for these characters. I did not feel like Autumn and Dax truly bonded during their couple of days locked in. Autumn spent a good majority of her time admitting she was spoiled and rich with awful friends. Dax angrily admitted he had a horrid childhood and the foster family he was living with were not much better. These two could not be more different but that’s the trope, right? Opposites attract?

A huge theme within the story is Autumn’s anxiety disorder. She admits to having it, seeing a therapist, and taking medication. Her parents are aware but nobody else is. How can her anxiety be that extreme and her school not even know? Her teachers don’t know and she has not ever told her friends. Why? Because she wants to fit in. She wants people to like her. That’s doesn’t sound like anxiety, it sounds like an inferiority complex. She is constantly worried about the bad stuff that may happen when these friends do something stupid and she hates feeling out of control, and that I get. That sounds more like anxiety. But if she has her anxiety under control, she should be able to talk to her therapist about it. Does she? Not once during the story. I have a feeling she had been seeing her therapist for years to help her deal and cope with this. I did not find it believable that spending such little time with Dax suddenly helped her realize that her friends were jerks and she needed to take better care of herself. Autumn’s mom asks her one time if she was doing okay and Autumn admitted to feeling out of control. What does her mom do? Not call the doctor. She lets her daughter stay home sick from school for a week. That just did not feel what a responsible parent would do. I do relate since I have  an anxiety disorder and that is why I feel it could have / should have been handled differently.

I never connected to any of the characters in this story. Every single one of them felt flat and shallow. Autumn doesn’t seem to know much of the world outside of her rich friend circle. That is why it felt a little cliche when she found herself stuck with the loner badboy. I never felt they connected at any point in the story. They felt more like friends than romantically attracted to each other. That leads me to Autumn’s friends. Those raging jerks need to hard dose of reality. Jeff was such a stereotypical popular jock that can do no wrong. Autumn felt she was supposed to date him because he was popular. Oh, High School. How I do not miss you. Throughout the book, these characters became worse. They really were all self-centered and worried only about the next party they would be throwing. Then again, the characters were never really expanded on in any way so we only ever get to see them in this horrid light.

When I say this story felt like a disappointment, I mean a huge disappointment. Kasie West is known for super sweet, sometimes gooey swoony romantic type reads. So many opportunities were missed in this story! Autumn and Dax should have had so much sexual tension between them in the library that they didn’t need anything else to keep them warm. Instead, they rooted around for spare change for the vending machine, watched TV, and played card games. They didn’t even share the sleeping bag! It was one person had it at all times. So many missed opportunities within this story! I wanted so much more. I felt like the story was left unfinished. I will still always buy Kasie West books but I may tread lighter with them. This did not read like the earlier West stories that hooked me. Proceed with caution if you pick up this book. Do not expect a hot and steamy roll between the book stacks because that will never happen in this story.

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3 thoughts on “Review: By Your Side

  1. I’m sorry you didn’t enjoy this — sounds like the plot just wasn’t quite thought through enough, and the characters sound super annoying. Hope your next read is better!

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