Review: The Fill-In Boyfriend by Kasie West


Genre: Young-Adult, Contemporary
Pages: 343
Series: No
Release Date: May 5, 2015



Before I read this book, I read a few pretty negative reviews about it which made me almost, almost, postpone, or maybe even, cancel reading it. And now that I’ve read it, I feel like all those reviews completely missed the point. I have a quote from the book for them:

“I’m the most shallow person on the face of the earth, I’ve decided. I have absolutely no depth. And I don’t know how to get it. My life is normal. My parents are together. They don’t beat me or anything. Death has never taken anyone close from me. I do well in school. We’re not poor but we’re not rich either. I’ve never had a life-threatening illness or injury. I’m devoid of tragedy and therefore have no wisdom or insights to offer.”

These lines were said by the protagonist, Gia. You see, Gia has a good life. The main plot of the book was that when her boyfriend dumps her in the parking lot on prom night, she asks some other guy to pretend to be him for a couple of hours so that she can prove to her friends, one of whom is especially bitchy, that she does have a boyfriend.

That’s not a tragic plot. And I think a lot of people can’t accept that. I’ve so often seen that if a story isn’t awful and if a life isn’t tragic, people often deem it not worth knowing. That if your problem are ordinary, then they’re not problems at all. Your parents aren’t truly bad until they’re abusive, you’re not truly depressed until you’ve succumbed to self-harm, you’re not poor until you’re starving, not sad until you’re sobbing, not lonely until you’re a pariah. It seems people feel like stories that don’t address the “big problems” with the unfortunate characters, they aren’t important.

What about the normal problems? Why can’t you be upset about not having a boyfriend or about having a mean friend? It pisses me off so bad when ordinary issues get snubbed. Your life not sucking doesn’t make you any less of a protagonist. Every person, no matter who they are, is the main character of their own story. And each story matters.

And no one will ever convince me otherwise.

I’m sorry if you found the above… article? …uninteresting (not that I care if you don’t find my opinions worthy of your attention). I just couldn’t not say that. It’s really important to me that people know that their stories matter, regardless of what their lives are like (perfect or miserable).

Now I’m going to get to the actual book. You know, the one that inspired the above few hundred words? Yeah, that one.

I’m so glad that I didn’t let those negative review sway me. I’m not going to say much because I feel like the fact that reading the novel made me think so much should be enough to tell you that it’s one to read. But still…

It’s a light read. It’s very cute, it’s entertaining, it’s funny and it has heart. It’s about friendship, family, love, and our generation’s need for validation. That if other people don’t think it’s good, then it’s probably not. It’s so sad to see everyone trying to prove themselves to other people. I mean, did you know that depression is actually a trend? I saw on tumblr (there are many sides to tumblr) where if you want to be part of their special our-lives-suck club, you should probably have a few cuts on your arms and a notebook full of suicidal thoughts. Because apparently, if I don’t feel the need to hurt myself, I couldn’t possibly be upset.

It’s heartbreaking and infuriating at the same time. And it makes me feel helpless because I don’t know how to tell them that it’s not like that.

But anyway… I’m getting off the book again. I’m going to wrap this off quick before I veer off again. I really liked the book. It was well-written, interesting, provoked a lot of thought, and I really like, and cared, for the characters. I loved seeing Gia’s progress through the novel and her finding herself as well as dealing with her relationship to all those close to her.

I occassinally found Jules’ motivations to be a bit lacking and the conclusion with Gia’s mom felt a tad convenient; though it didn’t take much away from the book. I still very much enjoyed it and I’m looking forward to reading the author’s other works.

This one was a charming novel that I highly recommend.


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