The Fill-In Boyfriend
Gia’s visions of the perfect prom go up in smoke when her boyfriend Bradley dumps her in the parking lot of the school. She’s been talking him up to her friends for months and they were finally going to see that yes, he does exist. Gia’s desperate so she enlists the help of a cute guy waiting to pick up his sister. Be her fake boyfriend for two hours and she’ll owe him. She can deal with Bradley later. But it’s not Bradley she’s thinking of the next day. When mystery date’s sister enlists Gia to return the favor, be a fake girlfriend for a graduation party, Gia finds herself falling for this boy. Maybe what started out as fake could turn into something real.
This turned out to be a quick and fun book to read. It was light and had that summer read feel to it. It was the type of book that made me wish for hot sun because reading it outside would have been so perfect.
I wasn’t sure about Gia at first but she turned into a character I really grew to like. She was pretty shallow and self-absorbed at the beginning and even though Bradley pulled a jerk move right before prom, I could kind of understand why he did it. It seemed like their relationship was more about Gia and having a boyfriend than actually being in love. Gia grew throughout the book the more she started interacting with people beyond her narrow group of friends. It was like she was outgrowing their friendship and the antics that came with it. It was nice to see the growth, but also a little painful for her since she’d been friends with a couple of the girls for so long. By the end, I really liked the person Gia turned out to be.
Fill-In Boyfriend, or F-IB(read the book to find out his name:)), was a really sweet guy and I loved the dynamic of his family life. Their closeness was a sharp contrast to Gia’s own home life where no one ever really talked beyond the surface of their feelings. He was really caring and a bit geeky and I just adored him. Can he be real? I also really liked his sister Bec and the developing friendship between her and Gia was so great to see.
The book said a lot about getting your self-worth from your friends, real life friends and online friends. It was great to see Gia growing out of that and finding out who she wanted to be as a person instead of being someone she wasn’t just because her friends approved. Even in such a light read it still managed to bring up that important issue and use it for character growth.
The whole style of the book was that familiar Kasie West feeling that I love. Great characters with growth arcs, interesting family dynamics, humor, slow romance. I couldn’t put it down. The plot moved along so it never felt slow and I didn’t care that I knew what was going to happen because I was having so much fun reading it. I did connect less with Gia than I did with Charlie from On the Fence but Charlie was a lot more like me than Gia was. She was still a great character though and it was a nice read.
On the Fence
Charlotte ‘Charlie’ Reynolds is a tomboy who can hold her own in any pick-up game. Raised by her single father and with four older brothers, she’s never really given much thought to make-up and high heels. Until she gets a job working at a clothing boutique after getting a speeding ticket in order to pay the fine. She tries to hide her work life from her family but the stress of that and the upheaval to her routine leads her outside, to the fence, where she begins having almost nightly talks with neighbor Braden. What starts innocently enough slowly starts turning into something more when Charlie realizes she just might care about Braden as more than a friend.
This was my first time reading a Kasie West book and I was not disappointed. It left me excited that I already own some of her other books so I can read them soon. This one seemed like it would be a good summer read but it turned into something more and I really enjoyed it.
Charlie was absolutely great. I loved her journey of discovering herself that she had throughout the book and I really appreciated that it never felt like the book was looking down on any of the girls who appeared. Charlie had her own perceptions but they were hers. To me, it felt like the book was saying it’s okay for girls to like sports, it’s okay to like make-up and dresses, it’s okay to like both. Charlie’s acceptance of that was important and well handled.
The family dynamics were also great. The boys were so protective of Charlie, their bond was so evident, and the teasing just made me smile. The romance was adorable and also believable. Their banter during their fence chats, their playfulness, just everything about them together made me smile. I did a lot of smiling while reading this book.
The writing flowed really well and made for an easy read that I didn’t want to put down. There was never a time I felt like the book was dragging, though it did end up being a little predictable. Still, that didn’t lessen my enjoyment and I look forward to reading more Kasie West soon.
*I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
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