“The Fill-In Boyfriend” Kasie West

Rating = 3.5 / 5 stars

Goodreads summary:

When Gia Montgomery’s boyfriend, Bradley, dumps her in the parking lot of her high school prom, she has to think fast. After all, she’d been telling her friends about him for months now. This was supposed to be the night she proved he existed. So when she sees a cute guy waiting to pick up his sister, she enlists his help. The task is simple: be her fill-in boyfriend—two hours, zero commitment, a few white lies. After that, she can win back the real Bradley.

The problem is that days after prom, it’s not the real Bradley she’s thinking about, but the stand-in. The one whose name she doesn’t even know. But tracking him down doesn’t mean they’re done faking a relationship. Gia owes him a favor and his sister intends to see that he collects: his ex-girlfriend’s graduation party—three hours, zero commitment, a few white lies.

Just when Gia begins to wonder if she could turn her fake boyfriend into a real one, Bradley comes waltzing back into her life, exposing her lie, and threatening to destroy her friendships and her new-found relationship.

Gia and Hayden’s relationship – and specifically their dialogue with each other – was really great to read! I was totally rooting for them the whole time. And I think that’s mostly because they weren’t cheesy. They started out as just friends, and let each other just be each other and listened to one another and had fun. But then they found themselves thinking about the other person, and considering them and if they found the other person attractive. But yeah, i love the way they talked to each other! It was genuine and not the writing of their dialogue wasn’t pompously sarcastic or full of “look at how cool and mature I am” references to quotes or literature or movies (I’m looking at you, John Green). They truly learn about each other when they talk to each other, and both bring something to the table. Also Hayden is slightly swoon-worthy.

This book also had a surprisingly wonderful introspection of family dynamics. Gia’s relationship with her brother versus Hayden’s with his sister, and their respective relationship with their parents. It really shines light on what is healthy in familial relationships and what is not. And it shows how even things that seem slight or trivial can really affect a person’s personality and have a snowball effect. 

Let’s talk briefly about Gia’s character development. I was worried she was shallow and popular and stereotypical and that I was going to hate her. But that was the point. She recognized that and tried to change and be better, but still herself. Gia is actually a nice person. She grows so much – she is completely open to change and learns how to be wrong and expressing herself and be okay with those things. In fact all of the characters go through amazing character development.

I didn’t hate the “fake boyfriend” trope like I thought I would. I probably could have very easily though… I think Kasie does a great job of making it be a problem without it being corny. Gia and Hayden don’t act like teeny-boppers about it. All of Gia’s friends on the other hand do act like annoying teenagers. That was probably my biggest turn-off about this book. It was so high school clique-y. God especially the friends and Gia’s respective drama with them. All that stuff with Jules and company could just be out of the book. Just freaking get over it, none of it matters. Gia herself wasn’t completely that way, she was super ambitious and active in school not because she was that “it” girl, but because she had goals and wanted/needed to work to achieve them. She was much fuller than the other girls in the book (except for maybe Bec – Hayden’s sister – who also had multiple layers and was kind of awesome).

All in all it was fluffy and cute. Not deep, but definitely deeper than I expected. I enjoyed the main characters, and the monologues Gia gives – getting inside her brain and watching her develop was cool. But some of the drama was so silly that it was far-fetched and eye-roll-worthy.

I plan on making a booktube video about all of Kasie West’s contemporary YA books fairly soon, so I’m keeping this review semi-short! I would highly recommend this book to people looking for light, quick, and easy reads! Fans of Morgan Matson and Sarah Dessen will definitely like this!

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