Saturday, April 19, 2014

Book Review: The Distance Between Us by Kasie West

Kasie West has two novels up for Whitney Awards this year: the futuristic Pivot Point and the contemporary The Distance Between Us.

While the basic outline is the almost-cliche, Cinderella-esque, poor-girl-meets-rich-boy story, I was pleased with the characterization and relationship building West wrote into the book that give it more depth.

The main character, Caymen, works at her single mother's struggling doll shop for long hours every day, going to school in the morning and leaving at noon for "work study" at Dolls and More.  She's even decided to forego college in order to stay home and help, especially when she discovers that the shop is operating in the red.

One day a young, attractive, and obviously affluent guy walks into the store, looking for a birthday present for his grandmother.  Caymen is instantly on her guard, having dealt with plenty of the "snobby rich" in their small beach town, but is pleasantly surprised when Xander responds well to her dry, sarcastic humor.  He, in turn, appreciates someone his age treating him like a normal person instead of either sucking up or trying use him for his money.  The secondary characters are interesting and well-drawn, too, providing a great supporting cast for these two to interact with.

West handles a delicate topic - class, money, privilege - well, recognizing the unique challenges that life affords for those in any circumstances and the tensions and misunderstandings that financial disparity can bring into friendships as well as romantic relationships. Caymen's relationship with her mother is particularly well-written with the love, misunderstanding, tenderness, exasperation, and loneliness between a mother and her teenage daughter just pitch perfect.

The Distance Between Us
by Kasie West
ISBN: 9780062235657
Buy it from Amazon here: (paperbackebook)
Find it at a local independent bookseller.
Look it up on Goodreads.
Check it out at your local library (find the nearest one here)

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