“I was locked in the library trying not to panic. Literally locked. As in, no escape. Every door, every window, every air vent.” ― Kasie West,
When Autumn Collins finds herself accidentally locked in the library for an entire weekend, she doesn’t think things could get any worse. But that’s before she realizes that Dax Miller is locked in with her. Autumn doesn’t know much about Dax except that he’s trouble. Between the rumors about the fight he was in (and that brief stint in juvie that followed it) and his reputation as a loner, he’s not exactly the ideal person to be stuck with. Still, she just keeps reminding herself that it is only a matter of time before Jeff, her almost-boyfriend, realizes he left her in the library and comes to rescue her.
Only he doesn’t come. No one does.
Instead it becomes clear that Autumn is going to have to spend the next couple of days living off vending-machine food and making conversation with a boy who clearly wants nothing to do with her. Except there is more to Dax than meets the eye. As he and Autumn first grudgingly, and then not so grudgingly, open up to each other, Autumn is struck by their surprising connection. But can their feelings for each other survive once the weekend is over and Autumn’s old life, and old love interest, threaten to pull her from Dax’s side?
Caitlynn: I wish I qoujld have known about Kasie West when I was in middle school/high school. Her books are great for that age range. I definitely still enjoyed the book but really would have loved it if I were a little younger. Overall, I gave it 4/5 stars.
Eden: Kasie West is a newer contemporary author to me, and I really enjoy what she does. By Your Side is the second book I’ve read by her, and while I wasn’t as big of a fan of it as I was P.S. I Like You, I did enjoy it. Overall, I found that it was tailored to a much younger audience, but it’s still a nice light read. 3/5 stars.
Jenn: I really enjoy Kasie West’s novels. This is the 3rd book that I’ve read by her. Unfortunately, I didn’t enjoy this as much as P. S. I Like You or On The Fence. I think it was a combination of the book feeling like it was targeted at a younger audience as well as me not really besinng in the mode for a contemporary novel at the time. Overall, I have it 3/5 stars.
Eden: I gave By Your Side three stars.
Jenn: Three stars.
Caitlynn: Four stars apparently.
E: Ok, why?
C: I felt that this was a very good coming of age story. It was one of those “learning to love yourself” teenage novels. Because of the situations with Jeff and Autumn and her realizing that maybe she wasn’t in love with the guy she thought she was in love with, that maybe it was more of an infatuation. In the end, though, she finally figured out what she wanted or needed with her life and I liked that.
E: Yeah, I agree. I think this is for a much younger audience than for us.
C: So let me tell you. If I were locked in a library for three days by myself, while I’d be worried about food, I would be so excited. All I would do is read!
J: I think this was the other hard point of the book was that she didn’t have a whole lot of characteristics to her personality so I didn’t feel a connection to her. In the end the only person that stood out to me in the novel was Dax, and that’s just because he had more character traits that were prevalent.
E: Yeah. With Autumn, the only thing I really knew about her is that she had anxiety.
C: And she was very flighty. It seemed like her personality changed to match who she was hanging out with. I mean, I think that’s pretty true to a teenager anyways, but…
J: She was somebody that blended in with her surroundings, with her group, so it’s what made it so hard to get an idea of what she was thinking. I couldn’t predict her actions or her thoughts just because I didn’t know who she was. I knew that anxiety colored a lot of her world, but outside of that I didn’t know any of her interests. I didn’t know what she liked to do outside of the library since it certainly wasn’t reading.
E: She liked photography.
J: She liked photography but she never really talked about the photography that she did.
C: And she didn’t want to do it in school because it would be an unreliable career.
E: I didn’t really get the concept of a “distraction”. She made Dax her “distraction”, if we compared this to D.U.F.F. you have a typical friends-with-benefits-distraction type relationship, which is totally different. This was like, “We talk about stuff.”
J: I think it was meant to be like friends with benefits without-
E: Without the benefits?
J: No, like she did want to cuddle with him and stuff, so I think it’s like — if we look at YA as a whole, Kasie West books are about on the same scale as Sara Dessen. It has the idea of relationships but it’s not going to go to the same sexual level as older YA books. The most graphic part of the novel is going to be a makeout scene. It’s much more targeted toward preteens, who haven’t experienced high school and this is what they think high school is going to be like.
C: It’s definitely meant for Sara Dessen age range.
J: Yeah. So when she says distraction, I think it’s meant as a candy coated version of friends with benefits.
E: Ok, I can see that. I can understand that. When you’re reading it from a 25 year old mindset —
C: Especially when we’ve read the ACOTAR series and other Maas series.
E: I definitely preferred the first part of the book when they were trapped in the library to the second half of the book.
C: You see, I wish would have gotten more about Dax because I feel like it was more of her perception of Dax.
E: See, I thought West did a great job with Dax in the library because I felt like I knew a lot about Dax and she didn’t have to do a whole lot.
J: All I knew about him was that he was nice because he left out blankets and gave her his jacket.
E: Oh, I thought she did a good job showing — he had a bag with him, his phone — like he has all of his essentials to be away from home, why is he living in a library?
J: What I meant is, I knew his background story from his interactions in the library, but I didn’t know who he really was.
E: Oh, I’m sorry, I totally misunderstood you.
J: Yeah, no. I meant like his personality traits.
E: Ok, yeah definitely. But West did do a very good job by showing us where Dax came from and the lifestyle he lived by doing very little in the library scenes.
J: Oh, yeah definitely.
E: Dax does shine after the library.
J: I didn’t like that it was that he was in a foster home because it’s just so stereotypical in contemporary YA.
C: But, you know, I haven’t seen as much of that in the genre recently.
J: But it feels like all that I’d read in high school.
J cont.: We’re definitely not the targeted age for this, but I think if I had picked this up in 8th grade I would have really enjoyed it.
E: Yeah, same.
C: Definitely. And I did come to like both of them by the end of the book.
J: It was good. But it just wasn’t my taste.
E: Yes! And I read it while I was reading Lord of Shadows and it was nice to kind of decompress from the intensity of that book.