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.
The Fill-In Boyfriend by Kasie West
Published May 5, 2015 by HarperTeen
Format: library e-book; 344 pages
Young Adult/Contemporary Romance
Also By This Author: The Distance Between Us, On the Fence, Pivot Point
Goodreads | Author’s Website
My Rating: ♥♥♥♥
This book is about so much more than I originally expected. Yes, the majority of the plot revolves around the idea of a fill-in boyfriend, but it’s also about losing friends and making new ones, being vulnerable, and ultimately finding yourself. I connected easily with Gia as she tries to become a better person during her senior year of high school. Like so many of us, she feels like an absolute failure before she notices any improvement.
A lot of Gia’s life is centered on her group of best friends: Claire, Laney, and “frenemy” Jules. Seeing how these girls interacted with each other and with their other classmates reminded me of some of the best and worst parts of high school. I really enjoyed the misfit characters that interrupted Gia’s perfectly planned life and changed her perspective on everything.
I enjoyed the ending of The Fill-In Boyfriend because not everything is completely resolved. Some relationships were still messy and there were some unanswered questions, which made the ending more realistic, in my opinion. Sometimes I prefer a clean, “happily ever after” ending, but honestly, those books are usually more forgettable. When novels wrap up and leave a few minor ends unresolved, I tend to hold on to the story for a while after I’ve finished it, mulling it over and analyzing how it connects to my own reality. The Fill-In Boyfriend has had me reflecting on high school and the friendships that have dissolved or endured over the years.
Read This Book If…
…you like seeing characters get caught in their mistakes (and lies) and having to make amends.
…you’ve ever been a misfit.
…you enjoy venting your feelings through fictional characters (there are a few scenes involving angry screaming and throwing rocks).
…you’re looking to read a contemporary YA romance that is surprisingly more than surface-deep.
“We rarely find a depth by looking inside of ourselves for it. Depth is found in what we can learn from the people and things around us. Everyone, everything, has a story, Gia. When you learn those stories, you learn experiences that fill you up, that expand your understanding. You add layers to your soul.”
One thing Gia focuses on in The Fill-In Boyfriend is being a better person. She fails, a lot, but it reminded me that self-improvement is a life-long journey and not an over-night process. Although it makes me extremely anxious when fictional characters act like compulsive liars (seriously, I have a major problem with second-hand guilt and embarrassment), seeing how Gia reacted to the consequences of her decisions made up for that.
This book was recommended to me by a couple of friends, and even though I had previously tried reading Kasie West’s The Distance Between Us (and put it down after a quarter of the way through), I’m glad I gave The Fill-In Boyfriend a chance because it’s been one of the best books I’ve read so far this year.