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By Your Side Paperback – January 31, 2017
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“A simmering romance that gives weight to mental health and hard choices.” (Kirkus Reviews)
About the Author
Kasie West lives with her family in central California, where the heat tries to kill her with its 115-degree stretches. She graduated from Fresno State University with a BA degree that has nothing to do with writing. Visit her online at www.kasiewest.com.
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The story begins with Autumn locked in a library for the weekend. Yes, locked in a library! I loved the Breakfast Club feel to the beginning of the story. At first Autumn panics, but she soon resigns herself to relaxing and reading books for the weekend while scouring the staff kitchen for any food. Autumn soon runs into Dax, who is a loner at school and came to the library obviously prepared to stay for the weekend. They eventually start to open up to each other- but when they finally get out, will their relationship be the same?
I ate up every page of this book. I loved the library scenes when Autumn and Dax were playing silly games to entertain themselves, it was extremely cute and made me giggle. They also had quite a few tender moments when they talked about more serious topics. Dax comes from a broken home, and he’s much darker than most love interests in Kasie West books.
Autumn is a well-liked senior in high school- she has a loving family, a group of friends the care about her, and an almost-boyfriend, Jeff. What she doesn’t often talk about is her anxiety disorder. Even if it was a bit simplistic, I love how Autumn was portrayed with anxiety. She constantly worries about outcomes she can’t control, and we witness triggers that lead to several panic attacks throughout the story. I love how Dax was a calming presence for Autumn and helped her work through her anxiety.
This story was just as much about Dax and Autumn’s relationship as it was about Autumn working through her anxiety and learning to accept it and take control of her life, rather than ignoring it. I know life isn’t as simple as it is portrayed in this story, but it was a nice message! I don’t expect dark, moving and emotional stories when I read a Kasie West story. I expect light books that make me happy and giddy for the rest of the day- and that’s exactly what this books is.
Another very enjoyable story by Kasie West! I highly recommend any of her books, but I think this one is another one of my favorites. Its a quick, happy read. Hope you enjoy it!
You should probably already know this about me, but I’m just reminding you.
Kasie West consistently delivers sweet, fun, swoon-worthy stories. She manages to tell a story that touches on serious, relatable topics without making it the sole thing that the story is about.
In By Your Side, Autumn finds herself locked in the library… no way to get out and unable to contact anyone. Then she realizes she’s not alone… Dax Miller is in the library too, only it looks like he isn’t exactly trapped. She knows very little about Dax, only that he’s spent time in juvie, and he’s a loner. Not exactly someone she feels entirely safe with, but she just has to stick it out until her friends and her almost-boyfriend realize she’s not where she’s supposed to be … only they don’t.
Autumn and Dax have to make the most of their situation, and eventually they start to open up and share with each other, and they find that maybe their preconceived notions about each other aren’t entirely accurate.
Now let’s be honest, who among us book nerds wouldn’t love to be trapped in a library for a long weekend? Now throw in a cute boy and I don’t think a single person could say no. But if I’m honest, that’s only part of the story here and maybe only the first third of this book happens in the actual library and it truly might not be what you are hoping for in that regard. However, that’s where West introduces us to Autumn and Dax and shares some of their secrets and why they are who they are… the characters being cut off from everyone else in the story allows us to really get to know them on a very personal level and we learn things about them both that are very important.
I’m just going to come out with it right away… I loved Autumn… she’s funny, and smart and super awkward, and she just happens to deal with anxiety. I loved that West created a character who is dealing with anxiety, but she portrays it in a way that totally normalizes it, as it should be! It’s so important in YA today that people read about characters that they can relate to and that young people can see others who are dealing with things they might be and see that it doesn’t have to be life-ending, it’s just something that is a part of her life but she’s so much more than her diagnosis. Seeing her come to terms and finally share with her friends what is really happening in her life is just wonderful.
I have to admit too, that I really liked Dax. I suppose you could call Dax a “bad boy”, but I don’t know that that is entirely accurate. He’s certainly the most troubled of all West’s characters. He’s more someone who is trying to make the most of his circumstances and just trying to survive in the situation he finds himself in. As his past is revealed, I understood his loner status, and I got why he kept himself apart from everyone. I do love that he finally opened up to Autumn, and I really loved the evolution of their relationship… is this the swooniest relationship West has written so far? No, I have to admit I’m more partial to some of the others, but I still totally shipped these two so much! Their relationship was slow and sweet and I really enjoyed getting to see them learn to trust each other.
I think one of the things that West really excels at with every book (aside from swoony boys) is building and portraying friendships in a really positive way. She truly does it in every book she writes! Autumn here has some amazing friends (despite them leaving her stranded) and while it seems like there are a lot of friends to keep track of, the one to really focus on her connection with her best friend Lisa. It’s always so refreshing to see wonderful friendships portrayed in YA.
Overall, another quick favorite from Kasie West! If you’re looking for a quick, sweet read, you definitely need to grab this one, and if you’ve held off on reading ANY Kasie West, I urge you to start at the beginning of her booklist because you really can’t go wrong with a single book!
I have always adored Kasie West's writing. She just has this way of drawing readers in and making it impossible to not love her characters. Autumn had my heart from the start. I may not know exactly what she's going through but I do get how hard it can be. She has anxiety issues and gets panic attacks but none of her friends know about it. I get why she chose not to tell them. And that made her all the more real to me. She's flawed. She's far from perfect. But she won't let this one thing define who she is and control her life. She's funny, loyal and kind. She maybe a little awkward at times but hey who isn't? I just found it a bit disappointing that she wasn't much of a reader. I know, I know. That should hardly matter. But there were all those books just sitting there within her reach and I just... it's... Please don't shoot me.
I love this book to pieces. I love Autumn's relationship with her brother, the strong-bonded friendships portrayed, the cute, sweet romance, and the author's take on anxiety disorder.
I admit this book is heavier and deals with more serious topics than the author's previous books. But Kasie West handled it like a pro and still made the book such an enjoyable, swoony read while educating her readers at the same time. I don't think very many authors can do that.