Publishing Info: May 5, 2015 by HarperCollins
Genres: Contemporary, Young Adult
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: April 15, 2015
Related Posts: Pivot Point (Pivot Point #1), The Distance Between Us, On the Fence, Split Second (Pivot Point #2), P.S. I Like You, By Your Side
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.
I have grown to be a HUGE Kasie West fan. I just loved the Pivot Point duology and have been head over heels for her contemporary books so far. As soon as I heard about THE FILL-IN BOYFRIEND, I immediately pre-ordered the book and was lucky enough to grab at copy when I was at ALA Midwinter in Chicago this year! Although THE FILL-IN BOYFRIEND isn’t my favorite of hers so far, there’s nothing bad to be said about this book and it’s just as delightful and fun as I had hoped it would be!
The book wastes no time introducing the situation at hand with Gia and how she ends up having a “fill-in boyfriend” and their interactions are just plain adorable. I didn’t relate to Gia as much as I have with previous Kasie West heroines but I do admire that she’s not really afraid to ask for what she wants, and when her boyfriend leaves her in the parking lot at prom (what a jerk, right?) all she wants is to save face in front of her friends because her frenemy is pushing the idea that he doesn’t exist. Fortunately, she finds a Fill-In Bradley and he is too adorable and willing to play along to help out a total stranger. The relationship that begins to form between the two just totally worked and I just really loved the dynamic between Gia and Fill-In Bradley. (Yes, he does have a real name but it’s not revealed until later in the book so while other reviews may mention him by name, I’m going to leave you guessing because it was fun for me not to know until Gia did!) They really played off each other quite well, with Gia being a bit more head strong and unafraid to say what was on her mind and FIB being a bit more reserved. They balanced each other out and FIB helped Gia see a different side of herself that she wasn’t able to see around her friends.
The friendships in this book were really interesting and I loved seeing so many different types of friendships! Of course we see Gia and FIB start to become friends out of nowhere and because the way that they met was so wacky and unconventional, they don’t really need to hold back in any way. Gia also ends up talking to a girl in one of her classes who is very much on the opposite side of the social realm. Bec is a bit anti-establishment, definitely not one of the “popular” kids like Gia is, and unlike most people in the school, doesn’t really care what Gia thinks or what anyone thinks, really. She’s able to tell Gia like it is and dish out some of her own medicine and their sort of mutual dislike starts to transform into a solid friendship (especially since Gia is the type of person who doesn’t like to have people dislike her). Then there’s the frenemy story line, which isn’t something I’m usually interested in but Kasie West totally makes this one work. Gia’s best friend is also best friends with a girl named Jules who for some reason seems to have it in for Gia but at the same time, remains in their friend group. Gia struggles with questioning why Jules seems to want to turn her friends against her or if she just feels threatened and is making the situation out to be much worse than it really is. I just really loved all of the different ways these characters come together (or are pushed apart) and am once again so impressed with how well Kasie strings these all together!
The romance, of course, was positively adorable. I love some good banter in books and Gia and FIB just really played off of each other so well. Then of course, Gia starts to develop the FEELS — and who can blame her? This guy is seriously cute and I love that he’s a sort of nerdy type and totally not what Gia thought she would be into. I sort of love unexpected romances like that so I was all for the two of them eventually falling in love! Each character has their own past and skeletons in their closet when it comes to relationships (although clearly FIB knows Gia’s) so naturally, things become complicated, especially when trying to maintain a fake relationship meanwhile wondering if it really is real.
All-in-all, THE FILL-IN BOYFRIEND was exactly what I had hoped it would be and I just loved it! I think I connected more with other plots and characters from previous Kasie West books so this one didn’t take over as my favorite of hers but that doesn’t mean I didn’t love it all the same! I’m always so impressed with her storytelling and how she brings characters and plot to life.
“The View from Goodreads” is a featured section in my reviews that I decided to incorporate! I tend to update my Goodreads status a LOT when I read — reactions, feelings, notes — so I thought it would be fun to share the sort of “reading process”! All status updates are spoiler-free (no specific plot points will be revealed) but will contain reactions to certain pages and/or characters!
Gia // Character Obsessions: Friends, saving face, being alpha, building relationships, social media.
I did like Gia! It was nice to see a popular girl not to be so stereotypical. I mean, yes, some are but the majority of my high school wasn’t like that. Most people aren’t like that. They’re very unique and have a wide variety of interest so I appreciate that Gia’s popularity also stemmed from being on student council (and how awesome is their sober graduation bash instead of the popular girl being a party girl? Loved that). I wasn’t like “omg new BFF” but I have definitely been in her shoes as far as friends and relationships and even family go.
Fill-In Bradley // Character Obsessions: Super cool nerdy things, family, selflessness.
FIB was SO cute. I just loved how he immediately clicked with Gia and he wasn’t afraid to give her a hard time when she deserved it. It was also neat to see their relationship because he was the only one who knew the truth about real versus fake Bradley so it was like they had a little secret! Anyway, just loved him in general.
Kept Me Hooked On: Frenemies. Usually I avoid books where girls are hating on each other. I just don’t like watching people claw at each other to try to become the top dog for popularity’s sake or to gain social status… but Kasie West rocked this concept! There was a real reason why Jules was kind of terrible and it was a real struggle between the two girls and not superficial so I actually enjoyed it!
Left Me Wanting More: Main character connection. I liked Gia a lot but there were also quite a few ways in which I didn’t relate. That doesn’t make her any less of a character for me but the contemporary characters I usually fall in love with as far as fluffier reads go are the characters who I can totally relate to/want to be BFFs with (like Charlie from ON THE FENCE). Still loved her and it’s just a silly thing because obviously I can’t be like ALL of the characters ever, ya know?
Just adorable. All the love for Kasie West. Go buy this and all of her books. I’ll wait.
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(Click the cover to see my review!)