Book Review: By Your Side
By: Kasie West
Published By: HarperTeen
Publication Date: January 31, 2017
Page Count: 352
Page Count: 352
Source: ARC Kindly Provided by Publisher via Edelweiss
Audience: Young Adult - Contemporary
By Your Side begins with a dream of mine - the main character finds herself locked in a library for the weekend. Autumn Collins didn't expect to spend her holiday weekend locked in a library. She had big plans with her best friends to spend the snowy weekend at a mountain cabin and perhaps sitting with her crush, Jeff, at a bonfire. Everything is on track for the weekend to be epic, but as the group polishes off their homework and gets ready to leave the library to head to the mountains, Autumn realizes that all that Dr. Pepper isn't going to stay in her bladder for the drive. She rushes back inside the library to hit up the bathroom, but soon finds that everyone has left and she is locked inside. To make matters worse, she left her bag, including her phone, in the trunk of her crush's car. Autumn is horrified when she realizes the library won't reopen until Tuesday due to the Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday. She knows her friends will notice her absence sooner rather than later and come back for her.
Autumn doesn't count on someone else being locked inside with her which causes a confrontation when a guy makes himself known. After a bit, Autumn realizes its a handsome loner from her school, Dax Miller. Nobody knows much about Dax, but the rumors range from druggie to violent juvenile delinquent. All anyone knows for sure is that he keeps to himself and lives in a foster home. Autumn isn't thrilled to be stuck in the library with Dax when she could be cuddled with up Jeff or laughing with the girls, but she decides to make the best of a crappy situation. It becomes apparent rather quickly that nobody is coming for Autumn and she can't figure out why, but the snow falling outside makes her worry that everyone is snowed in. She wants to pull the fire alarm and alert people to her predicament, but Dax pleads with her to stick it out until the library reopens. Autumn realizes that Dax is running from something and may just need a friend.
The pair strike up an unlikely friendship and begin to learn more about each other during their forced confinement. While I would love the books, I don't think I would have enjoyed the cold and lack of food. I loved watching Dax and Autumn's relationship evolve. My heart ached for Dax and all the things he had been through in his young life. I also felt for Autumn as she battles with her anxiety disorder while trying to put forth a strong face for Dax. Things change when a news report comes on the tv in the break room showing a massive search under way for Autumn. She is believed to be missing after Jeff had a car accident that landed him in the river and her belongings were recovered from his trunk. Nobody knows where Autumn is and most people believe she couldn't have survived this long in such harsh wintery conditions. Autumn can't let her family and friends continue to think she is dead, but she doesn't know what to do. The panic triggers her anxiety and she passes out from the shock. Dax does the only thing he can think of and pulls the fire alarm which facilitates their rescue.
Autumn wakes up in a hospital to find she's being treated for dehydration. She must deal with the fallout from her weekend in more ways than one. She has to assure her family and friends that she has no lingering effects from her time in the library while trying to keep Dax's presence a secret. On top of everything, Jeff is in bad shape after his accident and Autumn blames herself. To make matters worse, none of Autumn's friends know about her anxiety, which makes her seem like she is flaking out on them all the time. Furthermore, she can't shake Dax from her thoughts. She knows he wants no attachments, but she can't help hoping that they can be friends.
Autumn must decide if she's going to follow the carefully planned path that is expected of her or if she is going to forge a new path filled with unpredictable turns.
I loved watching Autumn evolve. It was so nice to see her eventually stand up for herself. I often do things people expect of me - even when I don't want to - so I understood where Autumn was coming from throughout the novel. In addition, anxiety is a serious disorder that many people deal with that needs to be talked about more. People with anxiety and other mental health issues shouldn't have to live separate lives to keep their disorder a secret.
I also loved the friendship between Autumn and Lisa. Lisa is the sort of friend we all need. She's supportive and loyal - no matter what.
Dax's situation was more difficult than Autumn's. The foster care system has so many wonderful people involved in it, but there are also stories of neglect and heartbreak. It was nice to see Dax finally land in a home that gave him structure. I also loved that Autumn's parents saw him as a hero after his role in getting Autumn help during the library panic attack. There was no judgment about his past or upbringing. Autumn's supportive, loving family was a breath of fresh air when parental figures are often the enemy or largely absent in a lot of YA novels.
I love Kasie West's novels. They always showcase a strong girl going through a difficult time, but finding support from her family and friends helps her pull through it. She also creates some of the best YA romances. I highly recommend picking this one up when it releases later this month.
One Last Gripe: Dallin irked me. He made assumptions without having facts. I understood why he felt the way he did. His heart was in the right place, but he was a jerk.
Favorite Thing About This Book: The library chapters
First Sentence: I was locked in the library trying not to panic.
Favorite Character: Autumn
Least Favorite Character: Dallin
In this irresistible story, Kasie West explores the timeless question of what to do when you fall for the person you least expect. Witty and romantic, this paperback original from a fan favorite is perfect for fans of Stephanie Perkins and Morgan Matson.
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?