Friday, July 31, 2015

The Fill-In Boyfriend by Kasie West

Published May 5, 2015 by Harper Teen
Paperback, 352 pages
Borrowed from library

On the night of prom, Gia Montgomery's boyfriend Bradley dumps her in the school parking lot. Which is obviously not good for many reasons but most specifically because her friends were expecting to see him tonight. After going on and on about her fancy UCLA boyfriend for months but never actually bringing him to meet them, her friends are a little more than suspicious about Bradley. Is he real or is she just making him up? So Gia knows that she absolutely CANNOT walk into her prom without at least someone to stand in for Bradley. Enter mysterious guy sitting in his car in the parking lot. Gia corrals HIM to fill in for Bradley and to pretend to be her boyfriend so she doesn't have to face the embarrassment of showing up alone at prom. And surprisingly he agrees. Everything goes well during prom including a well-planned breakup that solves the problem of her friends ever seeing Bradley ever again. But the thing is, even after prom, Gia is STILL thinking about her fill-in Bradley. Who is he???


But you know what IS my forte? Gushing about amazing books. And The Fill-In Boyfriend is amazing so yes, there will be a lot of gushing. 

If you don't know already, Kasie West is the queen of contemporary. Her previous books, The Distance Between Us and On the Fence, were some of the best YA contemporaries I'd ever read so naturally when The Fill-In Boyfriend was announced, I was absolutely ECSTATIC. And I was not in the least bit let down. In fact, I kinda think this was my favourite Kasie West contemporary. And I know I'm kinda alone on that because most people like The Distance Between Us or On the Fence but The Fill-In Boyfriend had everything I could ever ask for. IT'S SO GOOD.

So first, let's start off with Gia. I know a lot of people had problems with her, mostly because she was shallow and lied to her friends with fill-in Bradley (who has a real name but the reveal was so cute that I'm not going to give it away) and is a bit self-absorbed. But all those things only made her more endearing to me. She's probably the one main character I relate tot he most out of all of Kasie West's contemporaries. I didn't really feel anything towards Caymen or Charlie (I think that was her name?) but I got Gia. Maybe it wasn't the wisest choice to lie to her friends and get a stand-in Bradley but under the circumstances, I can totally understand why she did what she did. Which also made me upset at how the lie changed her relationship with her friends. Because her friends - or maybe one friend in particular - was HORRIBLE. And I was not accepting the excuse Kasie West was giving me about hard lives blah blah blah. You don't purposely undermine a person like that and honestly if THOSE were my friends (judgmental, rude, mean etc etc) I might've thought about getting a fake boyfriend as well. BECAUSE SERIOUSLY. 

But that's not to say that Gia is totally in the clear. She's not. She's a flawed character and I love her for that and I think she also represents a lot of high school girls. I know she represents me. She's someone who doesn't totally know who she is and has trouble with her friends sometimes. Like maybe not putting in as much effort into her friendships as she should (KNOW THIS FIRSTHAND) or not being totally open and upfront with her friends (AGAIN I KNOW THIS). She's also extremely popular and because she's always been treated as basically school royalty, she's a little oblivious and ignorant when it comes to other people. She treats them as if they're below her and she's always the one to call the shots and basically just step over everyone else. But over the course of the book, you get to see the development and growth of Gia as a character and it's amazing. Slowly by slowly, Gia starts to realize that she needs an attitude check and in the process of that, she also starts to learn more about herself. Seeing her grow was one of my favourite parts of the book. 

Gia's deep-rooted insecurity is one reason for her behaviour and it's something that really hit me hard. This book deals with social media and how it affects teenagers and the message is something that's obvious but I think needs to be repeated sometimes. It's about not quantifying your value by how many likes or retweets you get and that's something Gia struggles with and it's something I struggle with as well. It's so easy to compare yourself to others when you can break a person down so easily into something so simple as the number of likes on a picture. It's not healthy. I KNOW THIS and yet I still do it and it's one of the reasons why I've contemplated deleting my Facebook in the past. It's just not something I take joy in any more because I can't help but compare myself to others. And it's always an ongoing mantra of "you're not as good as this person", "you're such a loser", "you're never going to be like her", "no one will ever like you" and "no one cares about you" whenever I log in. So that whole part about Gia measuring her worth by the number of likes she had was something that hit me hard. It's something I see in myself and also in my friends, like when everyone gets together to have Facebook profile picture taking sessions and then afterwards, obsessing over what's the optimal time to post the picture to get the most possible likes. So reading about this aspect of Gia, while not totally helpful in curbing my own need for self-validation through likes (I think I'm a long, long way from ever giving that up completely), was comforting. It was good to know that someone else was going through that too. 

And that sense of comfort was a huge part of why I was so attracted to Gia. In her, I saw a lot of me. I saw someone who is often shallow and very self-absorbed, who is massively insecure about herself so she seeks validation in different ways, who wants to be liked by everyone and who's often a little careless about her friends and her friendship. I also really related to her loneliness even despite being surrounded by her friends though I think my loneliness is due to something different than Gia's. Anyway I have a lot of issues, most dealing with insecurity, that I need to sort out that I won't get into here because IRRELEVANT and also maybe a little TOO PERSONAL but basically yes, I saw a lot of myself in Gia. And that's why I related to her so much and liked her so much when others disliked her for the same reasons. She brought a sense of comfort to me because she was struggling with the same things I was.

I can definitely break my love for this book into two parts. Obviously my connection to Gia is a huge part but then my love for fill-in Bradley was another huge part. I ABSOLUTELY ADORED FILL-IN BRADLEY. He was amazing and I loved the natural progression of Gia and fill-in Bradley's (we'll call him FIB from now on because I'm too lazy to type out the whole name) relationship. It was sweet and SO ADORABLE. Honestly FIB is such a gem of a person, I can't even tell you. While he wasn't Gia's type necessarily, he is SO SO SO my type. I swooned HARD. He was so adorable. I know I've said the same thing over and over again but he really was amazing. I kinda want a FIB for myself. SIGH. Their dialogue was so on point and honestly SUCH PRECIOUS CUPCAKES. WHAT THE HECK.

Also this review is getting way too long but can we just sneak in a little prayer session for Bec? The most wonderful person ever? I LOVED HER SO MUCH. And I was dismayed that there was so little of her. I honestly want her to be my best friend, she was just so cool and an example of not to judge a book by its cover which Gia needed to learn and I needed to learn. AND YEAH THIS REVIEW IS SUPER SUPER LONG ALREADY BUT BASICALLY I LOVED THIS BOOK OKAY. IT WAS LIKE THE PERFECT SUMMER CONTEMPORARY. I READ IT IN FOUR HOURS AND IT WAS THE BEST FOUR HOURS I'VE SPENT THIS SUMMER SO FAR.

Kasie West is truly the queen of contemporary. The Fill-In Boyfriend was another home run for me. I absolutely loved it and maybe even a little more than her other two books. A lot of it has to do with Gia and how I related to her in a way I didn't with the other main characters. Gia and I have a lot in common and a lot of things we need to sort out so seeing her come to terms with the things about herself she needs to improve gave me great comfort, as a lot of HER things are MY things as well. So it was a very impactful book for me in that sense but also the writing is just great. I liked how this book dealt with some other important issues rather than just being romance, romance, romance and did it in a better way than The Distance Between Us and On the Fence. I LOVED fill-in Bradley. He's definitely my favourite Kasie West love interest now and yeah I just really enjoyed this book. Maybe the only thing was that things with Gia and her friends were dealt with a little better at the end but apart from that, I had a really really fun time reading this book.

people looking for a book to put a smile on their face or someone looking for a cute contemporary. The Fill-In Boyfriend will 100% do the trick!


Debby @ Snuggly Oranges give it 4.5 stars: "...The Fill-In Boyfriend is fluffy, fun, and surprisingly deep."

Nereyda @ Mostly YA Book Obsessed gives it 4.5 stars: "I’m used to Kasie’s books having open endings, but this one felt more unfinished than her others. I still had so many questions, mostly concerning Gia’s friends."

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