Title: By Your Side
Author: Kasie West
Publisher: Harper Teen
Release Date: January 31st 2017
In this irresistible story, Kasie West explores the timeless question of what to do when you fall for the person you least expect. Witty and romantic, this paperback original from a fan favourite is perfect for fans of Stephanie Perkins and Morgan Matson.
When Autumn Collins finds herself accidentally locked in the library for an entire weekend, she doesn’t think things could get any worse. But that’s before she realizes that Dax Miller is locked in with her. Autumn doesn’t know much about Dax except that he’s trouble. Between the rumours about the fight he was in (and that brief stint in juvie that followed it) and his reputation as a loner, he’s not exactly the ideal person to be stuck with. Still, she just keeps reminding herself that it is only a matter of time before Jeff, her almost-boyfriend, realizes he left her in the library and comes to rescue her.
Only he doesn’t come. No one does.
Instead it becomes clear that Autumn is going to have to spend the next couple of days living off vending-machine food and making conversation with a boy who clearly wants nothing to do with her. Except there is more to Dax than meets the eye. As he and Autumn first grudgingly, and then not so grudgingly, open up to each other, Autumn is struck by their surprising connection. But can their feelings for each other survive once the weekend is over and Autumn’s old life, and old love interest, threaten to pull her from Dax’s side?
– Blurb courtesy of goodreads.com
My Thoughts On…
Being locked in a library (or even a bookstore; if I got trapped in the Piccadilly Circus branch of Waterstones I’d be in heaven) for a weekend would be my idea of a dream come true. Unfortunately for Autumn it’s a very cold reality, and not a welcome one. Left behind in the confusion when she runs back into the bathroom as her friends get ready to head out for a bonfire party/camping trip Autumn is convinced it won’t be long until someone comes back for her. Unfortunately that isn’t the case.
Unable to find her way out and unable to call for help, Autumn resigns herself to spending the weekend trapped and alone, only to find out she isn’t as alone as she first thought. Dax is a loner, a boy who has rumours floating around him because no one knows anything about who he really is, and unlike Autumn Dax isn’t trapped in the library by accident.
With no one else around Autumn reaches out to Dax, believing that even the company of a loner she knows nothing about is better than no company at all, and tries to get him to open up more. Trapped with no other company the two share a lot more of themselves than they have with anyone else outside of their families. Autumn tells Dax things she can’t admit to her friends, and in return she learns more about the truth behind all the rumours spread about Dax.
Autumn tries to forget about how her friends have seemingly abandoned her, left her for missing, but when she discovers the reason no one came back for her the little world she has built with Dax in the library comes crashing down around her.
When I saw the plot for this book I was hooked. Trapped in a library for a weekend sounds like a dream come true and a brilliant premise for a book like this. Unfortunately I was a little disappointed with how that idea was explored in By Your Side. In all the time Autumn and Dax were in the library I don’t think I saw either pick up a book to read, and they seemed to struggle to find things to do to pass the time forgetting that they were in a library where there were likely hundreds of books for them to read.
Autumn suffers from anxiety attacks which, although she takes medication for, means sometimes she leaves early and wanders off from group events her friends drag her too. As something I suffer from as well I loved seeing this part of me in Autumn. She worries a lot about things people wouldn’t normally consider, has panic attacks when things get too overwhelming, and generally tries to make everyone around her happy at the expense of her own happiness. These are all traits I can recognise in myself and traits that I think are common with people who have anxiety disorders as well.
Locked in the library Autumn believes it will only be a matter of time before her friends realise their mistake and come back for her, when that isn’t the case she creates scenarios in her head justifying this in her mind. Autumn is a determined character, she never really gives up on trying to find an escape, despite being thwarted at every turn, and she soon becomes determined to get Dax to open up to her.
Dax has not had an easy life, and as such he’s learnt some harsh lessons that mean he keeps to himself, craves freedom, and hates commitment. While Autumn is locked in Dax is hiding, and he doesn’t want to deal with the questions he knows will come when they are both found in the library when it opens again. Dax is not someone who opens up easily, and when Autumn pries too much into his life and his past he backs away very quickly, but he listens to Autumn’s issues and never belittles them, instead tries to make them better for her.
The relationship between Autumn and Dax was a slow one to build. Neither knew much about each other and neither really trusted the other at first, there were a lot of walls to break through both on Autumn’s and Dax’s side, and while I feel we got a lot of development from Autumn’s side on her growing feeling it felt like there was something missing on Dax’s part. Maybe that’s to be expected considering this story was told in Autumn’s POV but it’s something I noticed more in this book than any other Kasie West has written to date.
There is a love triangle of sorts in By Your Side but I didn’t mind it, despite normally not enjoying love triangles at all. I felt it showed Autumn’s growth as a character as she changed throughout the story, and realised not only what she wanted but who she needed in her life and who suited her better.
As much as I enjoyed this book it isn’t my favourite Kasie West read to date, that honour still belongs to P.S. I Like You. By Your Side was an enjoyable read and it has everything I’ve come to expect from a Kasie West novel; a cute story and a fluffy romance to keep me entertained for an afternoon.
What did you think of By Your Side? Was it a favourite of yours or could you just not get into the story? Let me know.