The Fill-in Boyfriend by Kasie West

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Well, wasn’t this just cute! I can’t really hate a love story that starts with a revenge plot or silly scheme, no matter how predictable the results. Of course our female lead is going to fall for the guy she uses as her pretend boyfriend, and he’s going to fall for her! But that’s what we expect when we pick the book up to read, and for once I find that predictability isn’t a bad thing. I’m all for a little intrigue and scheming.

But there are are couple of nice surprises in tthis story that made it different than any other I’m falling for my fake boyfriend book.

  1. Gia is actually a likable and relatable character because of her faults. She masks all real emotion by putting up a perfect front, being very selective about her surface details. Due to her popularity, this can come off as about but snobbish. She didn’t realize this until her new friends, Hayden and Bec, really introduced the concept of real emotions abound expressing them to her. I can relate to Gia because talking about my deep emotions with friends is one of the last things I ever want to do. I keep things bottled up, which isnt healthy and I usually explode inwardly when I can’t take it, but I just don’t trust anyone with that much detail about my life. Like Gia, I think that people won’t like me if I tell the truth. But I’m ready to change,  so thanks Gia!
  2. The fact that there isn’t some big 180 degree change in her family’s behaviour at the end is realistic. Her parents still avoid emotion and conflict, her brother is still an ass, and Gia is still deflated. But there’s the smallest promise that they will try harder in the future as her dad let’s Gia awkwardly cry on his shoulder, her mom accepts words of wisdom and a brief hug, and her brother actually owns up to his mistake, even if it’s not in the exact way Gia wanted him to. No family can change at the drop of at hat, which is what most books do at the end so that the reader is satisfied that things have progressed. So I’m glad that her family is still set in their ways, but at least the issues have been brought to light for future conversation and mending. VERY realistic.
  3. On that note, I have to say the friendship between Gia and the girls, specifically Claire, is also realistic. The fact that there isn’t some big reconciliation at the end is brilliant because no one should expect Claire to forgive Gia that quickly. Even though Claire offers a smile and wave, the reader knows that their friendship is forever damaged. We’re left wondering if they can repair it enough to be roommates at UCLA or issf Claire will forever through with her threat to change it. Which leads me to…
  4. Marcus’ comment that Gia outgrew her friends. I LOVE THIS because West is addressing something that is rare. Most authors make high school friendships seem like they should last forever or they just do the obvious thing and blame the original fight for there demise. But it’s true that we tend to outgrow our friends, especially in our teen years. In elementary school you play with everyone no matter the personality, but in high school you start to realize that personality matters and tou go off into different groups. Hayden and his friends are a good example of holding on to people past their release date, because he has nothing in common with his sporty jock friends Spencer and Ryan apart from their childhood. Both of these boys are also jerks, and Hayden is a sweetheart. But Hayden can’t seem to let them go despite what they’ve done. Gia outgrows her friends because they’re still the same “mean popular girls” by the end, while Gia has learned to be a better, kinder person. Claire, Laney and Jules have a lot of growing up to do before UCLA. Their small world is about to get a whole lot bigger.
  5. Jules is perfection in that love-to-hate you way. I like that she wins the mind game at the end, and that there isn’t some big life changing moment where she and Gia say sorry and become friends, or that Claire realizes how horrible Jules is. Claire remains ignorant and Gia has lost her friends to Jules. The bad guy doesn’t lose! Justice isn’t served! Once again, the reader is hit hard with reality.
  6. The fact that this book dives deeper into love, friendship and family issues than you would expect from a story that revolves around making ex’s jealous. Thank you West!
  7. Bec! I love that she never compromises who she is, and Gia (and the reader) love her for it. I want her to be my friend.
  8. And of course, Gia and Hayden’s relationship. Not only are they adorable together, but they compliment each other. The fact that they were both struggling with the notion of turning their friendship into more was very well executed by West, involving Bec, Eve, Jules, Real Bradley, and everyone else into the complicated mix. They didn’t know how to just think of each other and be happy because they’re too worried about what people think and how everything will change. I know the feeling… same thing happened to me in high school, but I took the cowards way out to keep the guy as a friend. But even though I avoided all the drama and potential break up, I lost him anyways as a friend. So I say take the chance despite the risks! Shit happens either way! Life advice of the day, Book Babies 😉

There’s plenty more I can say about this book, but I’ll leave you to be surprised. Enjoy, Book Babies! 

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