Book Reviews

Book Review: By Your Side — by Kasie West

Autumn Collins gets locked in the library on a Friday night just before a three day weekend. She keeps thinking that someone will come and rescue her – her friends, the boy she likes, her parents — but no one does. She soon discovers she is not alone – Dax Miller ducked into the library before it closed and got locked in too. At first she is afraid of Dax. He’s a loner, rumored to be dangerous, and doesn’t have much to say. As Autumn struggles to control her anxiety, her curiosity and loneliness overcome her fear, and she begins to get to know Dax. She soon discovers that behind the cold mask is someone worth knowing. As they slowly open up to each other and share their true thoughts and feelings, they feel a connection with each other that they have never known before. Their budding friendship is put to the test when they are rescued and resume their lives.
I really loved this book. It was a clean romance, told with all of Kasie West’s usual humor and finesse, showing the deep feelings and struggles that teens experience.
Dax has never known love. He’s been abandoned and deeply hurt by those who should have cared about him. Dax has reached a state of calm, where he understands that he is in control of his future, and that no one can influence him for ill anymore. He is amazed, puzzled, and confused by Autumn — her warm, humorous approach to life; the way she deals with her fears; and how she reaches out and befriends him.
I was also really impressed with how Kasie West portrayed Autumn’s anxiety and how her family handled her disorder. All too often people look at those with mental health issues and see only the problem, not the real, living person who deals with an illness that is only one facet of who they are. Autumn hid the knowledge of her anxiety from her friends because she didn’t want them to treat her differently. However, Autumn’s parents and brother saw and loved the real her. They allowed her to cope with her anxiety and deal with it in a way that was best for her without making a big deal out of it. They didn’t look at her as a lesser person because she wasn’t perfect. Her ability to be highly functioning was in great part due to her family’s love and acceptance. Sadly, this is not the case for so many in our society.
Great job, Kasie West! Five Stars. This book is my favorite book for January.

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