I'm not always the contemporary genre's biggest fan. More often than not, I blink and forget about the titles soon after reading them. I really love Kasie West's contemporary style, though. Between her and fellow contemporary author Emery Lord (Whose debut novel comes out next week...but you won't see my review until mid-May when I'm on tour!), I managed to kick the deadly reading slump I'd been in for a few weeks. West made me want to keep reading contemporary novels in a way I haven't experienced since I fell in love with Stephanie Perkins' ANNA AND THE FRENCH KISS. I read West's upcoming novel during the slump, and it almost-but-not-quite pulled me out. I'll have to read it again in a better frame of mind! I also want to go back and re-read West's debut novel PIVOT POINT and see if I love it more this time around. I've suddenly become a potentially life-long fan of Kasie West, and just blind-TBRed her 2015 title on Goodreads despite there being no real summary as of yet!
Caymen has a lot on her platter. She lives with her single mom in a small apartment above their porcelain doll shop. There's not a lot of room for two people, but it's home. Caymen's "dad" left after hearing he was going to be a daddy and forced Caymen's mom to sign non-disclosure papers and gave her hush money. Needless to say, Caymen and her mom are both jaded about the rich. Ironically, their dollshop is in a rather affluent area that receives patrons with money to spend. One day at work, Caymen sells a doll to a teenage guy named Xander whose grandmother is a frequent shopper. The two begin hanging out as friends. With graduation looming, neither one knows exactly what they want in life. They decide to introduce one another to various activities that might be interesting career choices and slowly grow closer. But Caymen isn't sure she could ever fully trust a rich boy and is never comfortable around his friends and family. Her mother doesn't want her dating a rich boy and repeating the heartache she went through, either. But something about Xander is impossible to resist...
THE DISTANCE BETWEEN US is sweet and fun and cute. West's writing style is strong and she gives you characters you care about. Caymen is wonderfully sarcastic and has an awesome personality. She really came to life on the page. Xander was pretty awesome, too. He bucked the stereotypes of the rest and proved that on the inside, he's just as uncertain as everyone else. Plus, he has an awesome relationship with his grandma. He's a keeper! I really like the way the relationship starts off as friendship, too. There's no insta-love present here, which was refreshing. The romance is just enough; it leaves you satisfied without being too "much." It's clean, so even younger teens could read and enjoy this one, which is hard to find in YA romance these days. Both characters have opposing personalities that rub off on the other. Xander catches some of Caymen's spirit, while Caymen becomes more serious and thoughtful about the future. Caymen's mother plays a big role, too. You can tell there's something wrong that she's covering up, something she doesn't want Caymen to worry about. She really loves her daughter and only wants the best for her. She doesn't want her to repeat the mistakes she made in the past, but she also wants her to be happy. Living paycheck-to-paycheck is taking its toll, however, and once her secret comes out, everything will change.
If you're looking for something sweet with just the right balance of light and heavy that has an indescribable charm, check out THE DISTANCE BETWEEN US. I can't put my finger on why I liked it so much or why it broke my reading slump, but I really loved its spirit and wasn't ready to say goodbye to the characters upon reaching the last page!