Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Review: The Fill-In Boyfriend by Kasie West

Book Title: The Fill-In Boyfriend
Author: Kasie West
Published Date: May 5th, 2015
Publisher: HarperTeen
Genre: YA Contemporary
Book Link: Goodreads

Synopsis from Goodreads:
When Gia Montgomery's boyfriend, Bradley, dumps her in the parking lot of her high school prom, she has to think fast. After all, she'd been telling her friends about him for months now. This was supposed to be the night she proved he existed. So when she sees a cute guy waiting to pick up his sister, she enlists his help. The task is simple: be her fill-in boyfriend— two hours, zero commitment, a few white lies. After that, she can win back the real Bradley.

The problem is that days after prom, it's not the real Bradley she's thinking about, but the stand-in. The one whose name she doesn't even know. But tracking him down doesn't mean they're done faking a relationship. Gia owes him a favor and his sister intends to see that he collects: his ex-girlfriend's graduation party — three hours, zero commitment, a few white lies.

Just when Gia begins to wonder if she could turn her fake boyfriend into a real one, Bradley comes waltzing back into her life, exposing her lie, and threatening to destroy her friendships and her new-found relationship.

Disclaimer: I won this book in a giveaway.

Legitimate question: How does Kasie West do this?

I mean, this is her 3rd contemporary novel and she just has this ability to create swoony boys and put them together with imperfect girls. God, her formula is awesome. The Distance Between Us is still my favorite Kasie West contemporary, but The Fill-In Boyfriend is fighting for 2nd place alongside On The Fence.

We meet Gia just as she's getting dumped on prom night by her boyfriend, Bradley. That was rough to read. High school can be a cruel place, especially if you attend a promo solo. For Gia, the idea of attending prom on her own is not something she wants to face. Not when Jules, her frenemy, has doubted the existence of Bradley since the beginning. The last thing Gia wants is to be seen as a liar.

On a whim, she asks a guy who just dropped his sister off, to be her date to prom. She wants him to pretend to be Bradley, and after a little bit of bantering, he agrees. The night ends a little rocky, and Gia doubts that she'll ever see Fill-In Bradley again.

Until it's revealed that she's been sitting behind his sister in one of her classes all year.

Now it's time for Fill-In Bradley to pass Gia off as his girlfriend at a party that his ex will be at. Fill-In Bradley is clearly still in love with his ex, and is willing to do whatever he has to do in order to get her to come back to him. His sister is all for this plan although she intensely dislikes her brother's ex.

More craziness ensues at the party, but my favorite part was seeing the sparks increase between Fill-In Bradley and Gia. I could feel the chemistry between them, I felt like I could root for them as a couple. That, right there is an awesome feeling. 

I loved the romance between Gia & Fill-In Bradley. It worked for me because there were things that balanced each of them out. When things went sour between Fill-In Bradley and his ex, his self-esteem took a nosedive. Gia helped his confidence. Gia started off the book a bit uptight and rigid, but Fill-In Bradley helped relax her.

I loved Gia's character arc. At the beginning of the book she is so obsessed with doing everything perfect, being friends with the right people, never showing her true emotions, but as the book unfolds, Gia starts to crack, she starts becoming more flawed, she starts expressing her true emotions, especially around her family.

On the surface, her family seems normal, loving and supportive of each other, but as the book continues on, we realize that Gia doesn't really share anything with her parents, and her mom especially, keeps her emotions bottled up, just like Gia does. I did love her dad though. Her dad was awesome and protective.

"I hate boys."
"He didn't hurt you, did he?"
"No, well, he just hurt my heart."
"Oh honey, I'm so sorry."

This book explored the complexities of sibling relationships as well. I spent most of the book detesting the hell out of Gia's brother Drew. He just seemed like such a jackass and most of the time, the things he would say would enrage me. Things between Drew & Gia were complicated, but I liked how it ended.

Friendships in your teen years are difficult as well. For Gia, her friendships with Claire, Laney and Jules were difficult. I truly think that Jules was awful, but that she was also the Alpha. Claire & Laney were the Betas. I also feel like Gia was never her true self around these girls. Like she had to behave a certain way for these girls to even tolerate her. The exploration of teenage friendships was truly great.

I really enjoyed this book, and it was everything I've come to expect from a Kasie West book. I am giving this book 4.5 stars. I'm not actually sure why I cannot give it the full 5 stars, but I definitely recommend it very highly for contemporary lovers.

"We're not perfect and we don't have to be."

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