Title: The Fill-In Boyfriend
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.
This is yet another fun and fluffy book from Kasie West, and while I definitely enjoyed it, I think I might have liked it a bit more if I didn’t read it at the same time as another book that I kept comparing it to, especially in terms of friendship.
From the very beginning, I was interested in this story. Gia seemed like an interesting character – a popular girl who doesn’t have the best people skills with those outside of her social circle, and a girl who’s dumped by her boyfriend in the parking lot of her high school prom and who desperately wants to save face. Fill-In Bradley (as she refers to him until she finally learns his name) is also an intriguing mystery who graciously steps in and saves the day and sets in motion the rest of the story.
This story is definitely Gia’s. She has a lot of character building to do – she’s oblivious to many people around her and doesn’t even know what she wants out of life, mainly because her home life is picture perfect, emphasis on the picture – it’s not all that realistic, and as a result she doesn’t know how to deal. There’s also her relationship with Fill-In Bradley, of course, but I think there’s a focus on many different relationships, not just the romantic one.
I really liked Gia. She wasn’t a perfect person – too often, she just laughed at her friends’ cruel jokes or only worried about what other people thought rather than more important things – but she felt genuine, and I cared about her and her life. Fill-In Bradley was an interesting character as well, along with his sister, who could be both prickly and fun, if you really got to know her.
The other characters, like Gia’s friends and family, didn’t feel as fleshed out. I wanted to know more about them, especially her best friends, but they felt a little flat. Again, that’s because I was often comparing them to the best friends in another book I was reading at the time, but I think I would have felt a little underwhelmed by them even if I hadn’t been reading the other book. I read a review that pointed out that it also seemed intentional – Gia doesn’t really know who she is, and as a result it’s easier for her to leave her friends behind as she grows and becomes more outside of her friendships – but I still would have liked more, especially from her family.
I don’t remember any diversity in this book, unfortunately. Gia’s family is white and upper-middle class and I don’t remember any of her friends being POCs, although they certainly could have been. There wasn’t any focus on diversity in this book, unfortunately.
The Adult Situation
Gia’s parents were mostly hands-off, but that did feel genuine to their characters. They’re the type of parents who want everything to be perfect and avoid conflict, even if they should really be intervening. Gia is also eighteen, so even though she has a month or so of high school left, she definitely felt that she was reaching the point where she saw her parents as a bit of a childhood relic, someone she didn’t quite need anymore. I know that sounds like an awful way to describe parents, but I think it fit this particular pair.
The romance was adorable, just as I’ve come to expect from West books. Fill-In Bradley was adorable and nice, and it was great seeing his relationship with Gia grow. And, of course as is the case with fake relationships, we got cute moments where they had to act like they were dating even though they barely knew each other, and it was all adorable.
By the end, Gia has really come into her own, and that means she has to deal with all the drama that’s been piling up over the course of the book. I feel like some things were left a little unfinished, mainly her relationships with her friends and family, but that might have just been because I wanted more from their characters in general.
All in all, this was another successful West book. I had some minor problems with it, but I still enjoyed reading it the whole time and look forward to whatever West writes in the future!