By Your Side – Kasie West – HarperTeen – Published 31 January 2017
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?
If the name Kasie West wasn’t enough to convince me to read this book all I needed were the lines “locked in a library”. Ha. Sign me up!! And By Your Side delivered on all the gooey, sweet, love story promises, but with a more serious tone that I really enjoyed.
Autumn has plans to spend the long weekend with her friends at their cabin up the mountains. She might even work up the courage to tell Jeff she likes him. But as they are about to leave Autumn runs back into the library for something and ends up being locked in. But her friends will realise she’s not with them and be back soon, right? On the verge of a panic attack, Autumn discovers she isn’t the only one locked in the library. Dax, school loner, is also in the library. But maybe not by accident. In the days they are locked in the library together and after their release, Autumn will have to decide if Jeff is the guy for her or if the connection she has with Dax is worth fighting for.
One thing I didn’t get was Autumn’s first reaction to being locked in the library: there’s nothing to do. What?? It’s a library. What about reading, or checking out all the new books or running your hands along the spines or, you know, staring longingly at the beautiful covers? No? You’d rather sing?? (Sing????) Okay, we will agree to disagree. But there is more to Autumn than I initially realised. She has an anxiety disorder. She has managed to hide it from her friends and none of them know about her anxiety. She is often uncomfortable at big parties or baseball games or other social gatherings but goes along with it, pretending everything is fine. Locked in the library with Dax, she has little choice but to explain to him why she is freaking out – even if he is reluctant to open up to her.
Dax is an enigma – the silent type who keeps to himself and likes his freedom. I really liked his character. Loved the way he is so supportive of Autumn. But while Autumn may grate on him to begin with you can see him slowly warming to her – hard earned smiles, gained trust. I really enjoyed watching their relationship develop, really liked seeing Autumn through Dax’s eyes. Even though the whole book is told from Autumn’s point of view, I could see how Dax changed, opened up to Autumn because of her probing questions, honesty, ramblings, chatter and lame jokes.
And then there is the whole right guy-wrong guy dilemma. Who is right for Autumn? Well I knew from the start, obviously, but it takes Autumn a bit of time to come to a decision and actually share that with those involved. This book is about romance but it is also about Autumn’s journey as she learns to stand up for herself and to be honest both with herself and with her friends.
By Your Side is a fun contemporary novel and addresses mental health, family, friendship, truth, self determination and trust in a realistic and honest manner, weaving these themes deftly into the story of relationships and romance.
As always with Kasie West’s books, I enjoyed By Your Side, quickly devoured it and am now eagerly awaiting her next release.
The publishers provided an advanced readers copy of this book for reviewing purposes.
Category: Young adult fiction.
Themes: Relationships, Social anxiety, Dating and Sex, Family, Romance, Libraries, Friendship, Trust, Mental health, Foster Care, Self determination.
Reading age guide: Ages 13 and up.
Advisory: Vague sexual references.
Published: 31 January 2017 by HarperTeen
Format: Paperback, ebook, audiobook. 352 pages.