The Fill-In Boyfriend -- Kasie West
2015 Release -- HarperCollins
Young Adult, Contemporary, Chick Lit, Romance
Very fluffy, very lighthearted, very easy to read.
I'm not gonna lie, this book had a lot going for it, just as much as it had its flaws. But for the most part, I liked it so much that I gleefully overlooked a lot of things I normally would have nitpicked at, because the story and the romance was just so sweet and full of adorable.
And there were definitely some FEELS to be had.
And there were plenty of thought-provoking moments that made The Fill-In Boyfriend more than just a fluffy romance. It was relatable in some aspects, and cringe-worthy in others.
The adult in me found Gia's actions a bit silly in that "Why don't you just be honest with them? True friends don't worry about things like that" way. Because who cares what anyone else thinks anyway?
My inner sixteen year old found it easy to relate with a lot of Gia's teenage, first-world problems, though. I was never a popular girl, but I DID live a lot of my young life caring about what other people thought, whether they liked my ideas, if I said the right things; even without social media, you often still reach for your friends' validations about your actions and your thoughts to a point where you don't express your real feelings because you don't want others to think you're stupid or weird or different because you weren't confident in your own self to stop wondering whether your friends would dump your ass at the first signs of NOT being what they expect you to be.
Thus is youth, I suppose.
But thus is also life. Because despite the fact that we like to think that teenage youth is where we face this kind of need for validation, adult life isn't much different. You're always told to stop worrying about what others think, but on the other hand, others will always be standing around judging your actions whether they know you or not. And unless you live in a bubble, it's hard to ignore.
I suppose it's how you deal and react with how others perceive your actions, behavior, words, etc., that makes the difference.
Anyway, aside from the somewhat rushed and open-ended conclusion (that left a lot of unresolved issues hanging--Gia's ex-best friends, the relationship between Gia and her family), I thoroughly enjoyed this book. Sure, the basic story line was simple and unoriginal, but the presentation was good.
And yes, Kasie West's wit and humor and the adorable interactions between her characters? Yes, much more fulfilling than what I had read in On the Fence. She definitely DID NOT disappoint this time. I gobbled up the interactions between Hayden and Gia and loved how their strangely initiated Fake Relationship ended up developing into a deeper friendship that eventually blossomed into a sweet romance. I grinned very broadly at the developing hate-to-friendship dynamic between Bec and Gia and loved that they could be completely, brutally honest with each other and still end up friends.
The rest of the characters, especially Gia's friends, were portrayed a bit more clichèd and in the typical, juvenile, high school mean girl fashion; and I would have liked to see a little bit of development on their end too. But this was a story about Gia's development, and I'm completely fine with that.
Also, Hayden may be the best boyfriend-fake-boyfriend in a YA, EVER. And I absolutely love that he's not the stereotypical standard nerd, but he's still a nerd; and that he's not the typical hot and broody YA male character everyone falls in love with. I loved him the moment he shot off his first superhero reference.