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 favorite 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 rumors 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?
Thank you Harper Collins and Edelweiss for the review copy!
If contemporaries that are flirty, super sweet, and make you squeal all the squeals are your thing, then definitely don’t miss out on By Your Side! This is my first Kasie West book, but it will certainly not be my last – I immediately put the rest of her previous books on my TBR after reading this one! It was perfect for what I like in contemporaries: adorable and quirky romance that, although cliche at times, made me feel all the fuzzies. There were best friends and siblings whose vivaciousness just jumped out of the page, and extremely realistic characterizations that I really enjoyed reading about. All in all, a fairly quick read with characters that you can’t help but connect to, By Your Side was a definite hit with me.
The book is already off to an awesome and unique start when we see the main character Autumn trapped in a library after she had to go pee, leaving the rest of her friend group. She suddenly gets locked in the library with no food, money, or phone by herself. What’s worse? It’s during Martin Luther King Jr Day weekend, which means the library will be closed for a full three days. I really enjoyed reading Autumn’s character, as she was super easy to relate to for me and a really smart and adaptable character. Her survival instincts immediately kick in after realizing there would be no way out for her, and she takes into account how much food is in the library lounge, and how long it can last her for the weekend. It was all very realistic and well-written to me, which made this strange but not unpleasant premise really enjoyable to read.
It isn’t long into the book when she realizes that there’s another person in the library with her! We get introduced to Dax, the typical loner at school who is surrounded by dozens of rumors, yet doesn’t negate nor refute them. He’s rather stoic and only speaks the necessary amount to communicate. He also has a traveling bag with the essentials to stay overnight, which makes it curious as to why he’s in the library… anyways, it’s a big surprise and relief for Autumn to see that she won’t be alone for the next three days.
“Dax Miller wouldn’t have been my first choice of guys I’d want to be locked in a library with. In fact, if I could choose any guy from my high school, he probably would’ve been the last.”
Being stuck in a library can definitely create some changes, as Autumn finds out when she starts getting close to Dax. Their little antics and games are so cute and clever, it almost makes me want to get stuck in the library. But without the lack of food, or course. Or the really cold temperature, loneliness, and fear. Okay, maybe I should just leave these situations to fictional stories. Anyways, somehow these characters manage to get closer to each other through dialogue and conversations to pass the time. Autumn finds the guy behind all the rumors and gossip, while Dax also realizes that Autumn isn’t the person he originally thought she was.
“Possibilities don’t hurt as much as realities. Possibilities are exciting and endless. Realities are final.”
The stay at the library only covers the first half or so of the book. An event comes up that makes for the escape of Autumn and Dax, which puts them back to their old lives. This includes them not acknowledging each other at school and Autumn back in the bosom of her friend circle. Dax becomes even more closed off afterwards, and with reason, even with Autumn trying to establish their friendship. The latter half becomes a bit angsty with some friend and relationship drama, but the book still retained the light atmosphere throughout it all. The rest of the characters were so fun and irresistible to read about! I especially adored Autumn’s caring family and her silly yet compassionate older brother. West also takes time to explore a bit of the friends from Autumn’s circle, each with their own realistic emotions and expectations of her. She really writes a captivating and diverse cast of characters that were extremely three-dimensional!
What I really thought was really well-written (other than the rest of the book) was the way the author explored anxiety disorder, which Autumn has. You see her over thinking what other people think about her and choosing her actions based on what pleases everyone around her rather than herself, no matter how uncomfortable she was. She constantly leaves when she gets too panicked in her friend circle, which causes for a lot of unexplained disappearances since her friends don’t know about her condition. I could really empathize and relate to Autumn in this way, because my anxiety really comes out – especially during stressful situations – and it’s easy for me to pass it off as a non-issue. But as Autumn comes to know, it’s an important part of her that should be shared and addressed, especially as her good friends wouldn’t think lesser of her for it.
“‘It’s not something you want to do. You’re worrying about someone else’s emotions instead of your own.’”
The romance was pretty unexpected for both characters, but extremely satisfying for me as a reader. Both Dax and Autumn helped out with the other as they opened up to each other, whether it’s facing their old fears or reaching out to the unknown. At its heart, By Your Side tells a story of an unlikely romance stemming from an even more unlikely scenario, yet stayed solid against all odds. Throughout the slow romance were characters discovering themselves and where they stood with the people around them.
This book basically has everything I adore in contemporaries! It’s definitely a quick and fluffy read that addresses a serious and realistic issue in a well-written way, topped of with three-dimensional characters that really bring light to the book. The romance was sooooo sweet and utter goals, as Dax and Autumn both helped each other with their own personal growth. Ahh, read it for all the cuteness and growth! This is definitely a book that I’d want by my side at all times.