Published May 5, 2015 · HarperTeen
GOODREADS · THE BOOK DEPOSITORY · AMAZON
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.
Within the first 50 pages of this book, I had thought Kasie West had lost her mind and wrote about a brainless, shallow protagonist that’s going to drive me insane. Even after loving her previous two contemporary novels, I had my doubts at the beginning of this one. But something I’ve learnt after reading so many novels is that sometimes you need to suffer through the first 50 pages in order to fall in love with the next few hundred.
Gia definitely wasn’t a likeable character at the beginning; she obsessed over how many likes she got on Instagram and retweets on Twitter. If a post didn’t get enough notice from her followers, she would actually delete it. However, that was exactly what gave her abundant room for growth. I’m not sure I’ve ever witnessed so much character development in such a tiny book!
The scary thing about The Fill-In Boyfriend wasn’t actually the complicated-sounding romance – it was how many of my friends I realised actually reflected Gia’s mentality at the start. They fret over social media and how many followers and likes they get; it’s insane, really.
Despite how adorable the romance was in the story – as it always is with Kasie West – the issue she raised about young people these days and our manic fixation on our online lives stole the spotlight. What I loved most was that she didn’t pass any judgement for such lifestyles in her writing; it was more of a suggestion, like, “Hey, there’s this alternate route where you get to see the amazing things around you instead of on a screen, just wanted to share that with you.”
Moreover, it was incredibly realistic that while Gia had changed for the better at the end of the novel, turning over a new leaf didn’t solve all her problems overnight. It would’ve been cheesy if every tiny detail of the novel ended with a happily ever after.
The Fill-In Boyfriend might actually be my favourite Kasie Wets novel yet. It had everything from friendship to utterly cute romance to a great underlying theme. If you’re looking for a short and sweet novel to bring to the beach, this one would be perfect. Though, I think it would be a perfect read regardless of the season or wherever you’re going.
And for the record, I do think the fill-in boyfriend (the actual character and not the title) is very much boyfriend material. ;)