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The Fill-In Boyfriend Paperback – May 5, 2015
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From School Library Journal
Gr 7 Up—Gia Montgomery is the epitome of a popular high school girl; she's a pretty, self-centered student body president who constantly seeks approval via social media. New girl Jules has been adopted into the popular girl clique but is really more of a frenemy, always trying to bring Gia down a notch or two. So when Gia's oft-bragged-about-but-never-actually-seen college boyfriend breaks up with her in the parking lot outside the prom, she is understandably desperate to save face. Enter random boy sitting in his car in the parking lot. Gia bangs on his window and demands/begs the stranger to fill in as her boyfriend for the prom. The Fill-In Bradley ("FIB") guy fits the bill, and Gia pulls off the deception to Jules and her friends. But circumstances continue to bring Gia and "FIB" (actual name: Hayden) together: Hayden's younger sister Bec is in Gia's history class and is quick to call in a favor. Now Gia is filling in as a pretend new girlfriend to make Hayden's ex jealous. Predictably, Gia and Hayden end up actually becoming friends, and a true attraction brews. The cotton candy-colored cover and title belie the fact that this is a genuinely clever and enjoyable book. Recommend this to fans of authors Sarah Dessen, Elizabeth Eulberg, and Stephanie Perkins as well as lovers of films like Clueless, Ten Things I Hate About You, and Easy A. VERDICT If sometimes too overt in the "shallow girl finds depth" theme, this sweet romantic tale is still hard not to like.—Tara Kehoe, New Jersey State Library Talking Book and Braille Center, Trenton
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Top customer reviews
The book wastes no time introducing the situation at hand with Gia and how she ends up having a “fill-in boyfriend” and their interactions are just plain adorable. I didn’t relate to Gia as much as I have with previous Kasie West heroines but I do admire that she’s not really afraid to ask for what she wants, and when her boyfriend leaves her in the parking lot at prom (what a jerk, right?) all she wants is to save face in front of her friends because her frenemy is pushing the idea that he doesn’t exist. Fortunately, she finds a Fill-In Bradley and he is too adorable and willing to play along to help out a total stranger. The relationship that begins to form between the two just totally worked and I just really loved the dynamic between Gia and Fill-In Bradley. (Yes, he does have a real name but it’s not revealed until later in the book so while other reviews may mention him by name, I’m going to leave you guessing because it was fun for me not to know until Gia did!) They really played off each other quite well, with Gia being a bit more head strong and unafraid to say what was on her mind and FIB being a bit more reserved. They balanced each other out and FIB helped Gia see a different side of herself that she wasn’t able to see around her friends.
The friendships in this book were really interesting and I loved seeing so many different types of friendships! Of course we see Gia and FIB start to become friends out of nowhere and because the way that they met was so wacky and unconventional, they don’t really need to hold back in any way. Gia also ends up talking to a girl in one of her classes who is very much on the opposite side of the social realm. Bec is a bit anti-establishment, definitely not one of the “popular” kids like Gia is, and unlike most people in the school, doesn’t really care what Gia thinks or what anyone thinks, really. She’s able to tell Gia like it is and dish out some of her own medicine and their sort of mutual dislike starts to transform into a solid friendship (especially since Gia is the type of person who doesn’t like to have people dislike her). Then there’s the frenemy story line, which isn’t something I’m usually interested in but Kasie West totally makes this one work. Gia’s best friend is also best friends with a girl named Jules who for some reason seems to have it in for Gia but at the same time, remains in their friend group. Gia struggles with questioning why Jules seems to want to turn her friends against her or if she just feels threatened and is making the situation out to be much worse than it really is. I just really loved all of the different ways these characters come together (or are pushed apart) and am once again so impressed with how well Kasie strings these all together!
The romance, of course, was positively adorable. I love some good banter in books and Gia and FIB just really played off of each other so well. Then of course, Gia starts to develop the FEELS — and who can blame her? This guy is seriously cute and I love that he’s a sort of nerdy type and totally not what Gia thought she would be into. I sort of love unexpected romances like that so I was all for the two of them eventually falling in love! Each character has their own past and skeletons in their closet when it comes to relationships (although clearly FIB knows Gia’s) so naturally, things become complicated, especially when trying to maintain a fake relationship meanwhile wondering if it really is real.
All-in-all, THE FILL-IN BOYFRIEND was exactly what I had hoped it would be and I just loved it! I think I connected more with other plots and characters from previous Kasie West books so this one didn’t take over as my favorite of hers but that doesn’t mean I didn’t love it all the same! I’m always so impressed with her storytelling and how she brings characters and plot to life.
When she notices a guy sitting in a truck, reading a book, her desperation becomes stronger than her embarrassment and she asks him to be her fake prom date. He agrees and after the semi-disastrous night is over, something magical, but extremely unsettling hits Gia.
By the time the dust settles, Gia has been through a giant emotional rollercoaster ride, had to look in the mirror and not particularly like what she sees, as well as discovering some new truths about the nature of friendship and her family's problems in communicating with reach other. Best of all, she's discovered that fake boyfriends can be pretty awesome once you get past the your part of the fake.
I'm a big Kasie West fan and read this within hours of receiving it. It's a good book for teens of both sexes who struggle with popularity, self-esteem and honesty issues. Definitely a good book for any library caring about providing good books to their YA readers.
While that is an accurate description of the very beginning of the book, there is so much more to this book that. I actually loved The Fill-In Boyfriend, but not until well after the prom scene at the beginning.
Gia starts out as a rather shallow and popular senior in high school, but as the story unfolds she quickly starts to realize so many things about herself and her life that she'd been oblivious to before. At the beginning I was kind of disgusted by Gia's character and was hoping for some serious change for the sake of my reading enjoyment. It was there, and it the changes started to slowly appear from the beginning. I actually loved her character by the end. So please, don't let the beginning deter you from this one!
The fake boyfriend for Gia is dreamy, and quirky, and squeal worthy. Can I fast forward his clock a little to make him my age so we can hang out? He would make an awesome real person! I was sold on him from his entrance scene, and as the story progressed he became a better and better fit for Gia. I adored him as a character.
I also love how easy West's books are to read and get into. Even when everything isn't sunshine and roses, it's still a breeze through the park to read, and I always seem to finish one of her books with a smile on my face. My favorite books are the ones that make me feel, and I love the whole variety. I love a book that leaves me longing in suspense, I love a book that makes me cry, and I love a book that leaves me with a sigh of satisfaction. This is one of those happy books by the end.
The book as a whole focuses on the changes from a more self-centered, high school life to the reality of the real world. I think most people went through a change in school similar to the one Gia experiences, in one way or another. This brought life to the story, and that's a major part of why it was so good a read. The same story without it would have fell flat.
I gave this book 4 out of 5 stars. It was a great story, a fast read, and left me in a feel good mood. I'd recommend it to anyone who enjoys a lighthearted YA contemporary.