I was surprised by how much this book made me think. This is my third book by this author so I was expecting a sweet YA romance with intelligent characters, but I never expected to relate so much with the main character. Gia was a people pleaser, and that caused her to be manipulative at times.
When the story begins, her boyfriend, Bradley, is in the middle of dumping her in the parking lot outside of her senior prom. Harsh, right?
Well, while it is harsh, and Bradley is a giant dingus for dumping her that way, Gia is more concerned with the prospect of being embarrassed with a no-show for prom than her heartbreak over losing the aforementioned dingus.
She has spent the last two months trying to convince her friends that her boyfriend is real, and he just did the one thing to insure that they will never believe her. So she comes up with the bright idea of asking a cute stranger to be her fill in boyfriend.
I am not going to be using the name of her fill in boyfriend because that would ruin an adorable plot point so from henceforth I will refer to her romantic lead as Not Bradley.
After spending a couple of hours with Not Bradley at the prom, Gia feels more of a connection with him than she ever did with the real Bradley. This leads to an adorable friendship between the two and that leads to Gia learning a lot about herself.
the character development in this book was pretty fantastic. No one was all good, and no one was all bad. The people who you liked the most were fallible and made some stupid mistakes, but I never felt the need to choose sides. I simply sat back and enjoyed the story.
The romance was also handled in an unexpected way. When I was more than halfway finished with the book, I realized that I didn’t care about the romance between Gia and Not Bradley as much as I cared about their friendship. I wasn’t waiting for the moment they finally kissed, I was just rooting for them to realize and admit to how perfect they were for each other. If you have read my reviews of two other Kasie West novels, The Distance Between Us and On the Fence, you have probably noticed I say this about all her books. That’s why I like them so much. The friendships are so well-developed and adorable that the romance is a bonus instead of the main event.
By the end of this book nothing was tied up in a nice, neat little bow, but it was somehow still a very satisfying ending. I think that is because Gia, Not Bradly, and most of the other characters were all in a better place. No one was fixed, but they were more honest with themselves and each other.
This book made me think. It made me think about how much time I spend trying to control what others think about me or manipulate how they feel. The word “manipulation” is harsh, and while manipulating people is always wrong, I don’t think it always comes from a bad place. Gia didn’t just manipulate to get her way, she did it in an attempt to force them to be happy or content. She hated conflict, so she did whatever she could to avoid it, and if that meant she had to manipulate how someone felt, she did it. None of this was intentional, it was just what she had always done. But I was relieved when she finally stopped trying to make people see her a certain way or feel a certain way, and simply focused on being her kind and wonderful self.
This was a sweet, funny, and surprisingly thought-provoking YA Romance. The lessons are very subtle and powerful at the same time, and I definitely think that romance readers of all ages should give it a try.
Because of mild language, I would recommend this book for ages 13 and up.