Title: By Your Side
Author: Kasie West
Published in: 2017
Genres: romance, realistic fiction, contemporary fiction, mental health/mental illness
“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?”
Autumn Collins is about to spend the weekend in a cabin with her friends. But first she has to write her history paper. That afternoon, her friends decide they’ll all do theirs too and they go to the library. When everyone is about to leave, she has to go to the bathroom and runs back into the library. When she gets out, the doors are locked and her friends are gone. She thinks they’ll be back soon, that they’ll realize they left her behind, but they don’t return. Now she’s stuck in the library for the weekend, alone. At least that’s what she thinks at first, but then she realizes that Dax Miller is also there. She doesn’t know much about him except his bad boy reputation. At first they keep to themselves, but then begin to open up to each other. First hesitantly and then more willingly. As Autumn spends more time with Dax, she begins to fall in love with him. But when the weekend ends and they go back to their normal lives, their relationship might not last. But maybe it just might.
Autumn was a generally easy to like and understand. Her character developed a lot throughout the novel. She starts off believing the rumors about Dax, but as she gets to know him more, she realizes he’s not as bad as she thought. She also starts off not wanting to tell her friends about her anxiety disorder for fear that they’ll treat her differently and/or won’t understand, but eventually tells them, though not in the way she planned. And before she met Dax, she did things only to please people, despite knowing how it would affect her mental health and going out of her way to make sure there was no disagreement or confrontation, but after spending enough time with Dax learns to stop caring so much about what other people think and to stop being so agreeable and a people pleaser and to start doing things for herself. Autumn also started off needing all kinds of rules and order and routine to make her feel secure, but Dax helped her to let go of that a little bit too.
Dax’s character also developed throughout the novel. He started off as a tough guy who didn’t want sympathy or help from anymore. He was afraid of commitment or attachment and didn’t want to let anyone in. As he spends more time with Autumn, he starts showing a sensitive side and begins letting down his guard a bit. Because of Dax’s desire for no attachments, Autumn and Dax start off as friends that are just distractions. But as he falls in love for her, he’s willing to become committed.
The plot started off unrealistic. The fact that they got locked in a public building with no way to get out isn’t likely and the fact that neither of them had a phone or couldn’t even find a phone anywhere there was even more unlikely. I felt that it became more realistic once they got out of the library and returned to their normal lives, though. Autumn had an anxiety disorder, but that wasn’t the main focus, and despite the fact that she had one, this book was fluffy and a light read. The romance was cute, but wasn’t immediate. The ending was predictable, but sweet and happy.
Autumn’s family was really nice. Her family was close and her parents were supportive and understanding of her anxiety disorder. Her mom constantly checked up on her emotional well-being and encouraged her to take mental health days. While this was a very light and not in-depth take on someone with an anxiety disorder, I liked that it was part of the story anyway. Autumn’s friends were pretty good too. At first I didn’t think so since they left her in the library and didn’t come back for her, but as I learned more details about what happened, I was able to understand. I think most of them did the best that they could for what they knew.
By Your Side was an enjoyable cute romance and I recommend it to anyone looking for a light romance or contemporary novel.
Rating: 5/5 Stars