Monday, July 22, 2013

Review: The Distance Between Us


The Distance Between UsAuthor: Kasie West
Release date: July 2nd 2013
Publisher: Harper Teen
Paperback, 320 pages
Source: Publisher for review
Buy: The Book Depository

Seventeen-year-old Caymen Meyers studies the rich like her own personal science experiment, and after years of observation she’s pretty sure they’re only good for one thing—spending money on useless stuff, like the porcelain dolls in her mother’s shop.
So when Xander Spence walks into the store to pick up a doll for his grandmother, it only takes one glance for Caymen to figure out he’s oozing rich. Despite his charming ways and that he’s one of the first people who actually gets her, she’s smart enough to know his interest won’t last. Because if there’s one thing she’s learned from her mother’s warnings, it’s that the rich have a short attention span. But Xander keeps coming around, despite her best efforts to scare him off. And much to her dismay, she's beginning to enjoy his company.
She knows her mom can’t find out—she wouldn’t approve. She’d much rather Caymen hang out with the local rocker who hasn’t been raised by money. But just when Xander’s attention and loyalty are about to convince Caymen that being rich isn’t a character flaw, she finds out that money is a much bigger part of their relationship than she’d ever realized. And that Xander’s not the only one she should’ve been worried about.

The Distance Between Us is exactly what you’d expect from a young adult summer romance, only better. At first glance, it is your regular boy-meets-girl, girl-has-issues, girl-overcomes-issues, they-live-happily-ever-after story. The devil, however, (or better yet, the win factor) happens to be in the details. Once you take a closer look, you find the creepy-yet-lovely doll shop, the warm-yet-isolating small town setting, an unhealthy-yet-loving mother-daughter relationship and a series of other contradictory things that make the story stand out.

Yes, boy meets girl. The girl is Caymen, daughter of a struggling single mother, somewhat bitter and untrusting, but also hilarious and loyal to a fault. The boy is Xander, obscenely rich and gorgeous enough to prove that there is no balance or justice in this world. But instead of being obnoxious and spoiled as he should be (at least according to Camryn), Xander happens to be generous and kind, which goes strongly against Caymen’s worldview.

Yes, girl has issues, and they’re no laughing matter. Caymen and her mother are struggling to get by, giving up on dream after dream and just trying to keep their tiny doll shop in business. With a lot of encouragement from her mother, Caymen has been harboring resentment towards rich people for as long as she can remember. When Xander shows up at her shop, she is determined to despise him until the day she dies, but he refuses to act according to her prejudices.
I’ll admit that Caymen’s attitude wasn’t always easy to swallow. She was drowning in double standards, accusing rich people of judging her for being poor, while at the same time judging them for being rich. Liking her required a fair amount of patience and good will, but her dry sense of humor and her loyalty to her mother and friends certainly helped.

This is a girl that has to work very hard to overcome her issues, and even when she comes close, her mother shows up like a millstone around her neck, first with her own prejudices, and then with the shop Caymen feels responsible for. Even though this was supposed to be a story about Caymen and Xander’s relationship, the complexity of Caymen’s love and resentment towards her mother pretty much stole the show. So often we burden our children with our own hurts and prejudices without even meaning to, and Kasie West used this to her advantage.

The secondary characters were a small, but extremely important part of this story. Caymen’s best friend and her wannabe-rockstar boyfriend, Xander’s brothers and parents, Caymen’s difficult mother and everyone else who showed up played a significant role in one way or another. West is not in the business of creating superficial, unnecessary characters and I love her for it.

Add to everything I’ve mentioned the creepy doll shop, which must be the coolest setting for a YA romance ever, and you’ll get a book you don’t want to miss. Highly recommended!



24 comments:

  1. Honestly when you say that contemporary book is this good then I can't wait to read it. I was afraid that this was just another contemporary story with the same characters and predictable story but it sounds like more than that. Great review Maja :)

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  2. Ooh, sounds good! The doll shop would creep me out but the story sounds really sweet and Caymen seems like a character I'd definitely root for.

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  3. Not an ordinary contemporary story! And I love interactive characters. I need to buy this book. Thanks Maja for another lovely review.


    -Dannielle

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  4. Beautiful review, Maja! I'm happy to hear that you enjoyed this book as much as I did. I agree that Caymen wasn't the most likeable characters at times, especially when she was judging wealthy people, but that's what made her so complex according to me. I enjoyed watching her shedding some of her prejudices with Xander. I also agree that her relationship with her bother was another great aspect of this book. I loved how twisted and complicated it was. I was so confused about her mother. There were times I felt like she had gone through a lot, but at other times I resented her along with Caymen.
    Lovely review, Maja! And yes, kudos to Kasie West for a book set in a creepy doll shop! :)

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  5. Yay! We're review twins today Maja and very much of the same mind on this one. First of all, this:

    "I’ll admit that Caymen’s attitude wasn’t always easy to swallow. She was drowning in double standards, accusing rich people of judging her for being poor, while at the same time judging them for being rich. Liking her required a fair amount of patience and good will, but her dry sense of humor and her loyalty to her mother and friends certainly helped."

    YES! I couldn't have said it better. I adored Caymen, but she certainly was not without her flaws when it came to being a tad hypocritical with her judgement of Xander, but overall I just loved her humor and this story in general. Her mother made me so angry at times I wanted to scream at her for not seeing what she was doing to her daughter, but I found the relationship to be fascinating. Gorgeous review my friend!

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  6. I have this ARC, but haven't read it, yet. It sounds really good though - great review!

    Kate @ Ex Libris

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  7. Oh, I'm so glad you enjoyed this one, Maja! I saw Jenny's review of it, too, today, and the positive reviews seem to abound. I love that it sounds snarky, sweet and cute all at the same time, and Lord knows I love me a sassy MC! Fantastic review, doll! :)

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  8. Heehee you and Jenny are review twins today! I love that you both really enjoyed this one, I had high hopes for it so it is reassuring to see it should meet those.
    Great review!

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  9. I started this last night since I needed a palate cleanser after Apocalypse! I am loving it. I wanted to stay up all night and finish but I didn't. Will finish it today. I loved the Toad guy and Caveman.... It is so cute.

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  10. YAY! I'm so glad that loved it too, Maja! Caymen was very hard to follow, initially I didn't like how judgmental she was towards rich people but after knowing where she was coming from (her father issues), I completely understood her standpoint. Plus, she was hilarious and kept the story highly entertaining. Great review!

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  11. Another great review of this book! GAH! I am going to have to get it, aren't I? Darn you and Jenny! LOL

    Oh I love the sound of all these characters. LOVE it when you enjoy the secondary characters as well. I love authors who do that as well. Darn it! I'm so going to have to read this one! Adding to my wishlist!

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  12. Ooh you have tempted me with the creepy doll house..*shivers* This sounds good, with and Caymen sounds colorful. Adding to my list:)

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  13. I've really been wanting to read this one so I'm really happy to hear it's a winner! I've been all about the summery reads, but a bit of depth makes it even better!

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  14. SEA BREEZE by Abbi Glines has a similar story set-up to this and I despised it. I don't say that about a lot of books, but I really did. But I'd love to see that romance - rich guy, poor girl - done right and I trust your opinion implicitly. Plus, character relationships are always a huge plus point for me, so I'll have to check this out for sure. Not to mention Pivot Point - not sure why I still hesitate to read that one. Lovely review, Maja!(:

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  15. I actually didn't like this one as much as I wanted to, Maja, because of Caymen's attitude. But, I liked that she was willing to work on overcoming her prejudices and the relationship that West portrayed between Caymen and her mother. Great review as always, Maja!

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  16. Huh, you know, I actually like that the romance was outdone by the mother-daughter relationship, even if that wasn't the intention of the author probably. I just prefer it when the story doesn't purely revolve around the romance and so I really love that added aspect of it, especially because it was handled so well. Nice review, Maja, you make me want to read this! The only thing is dolls creep me out, strangely... it's a bit hard to picture a romance taking place among them O_O

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  17. Wow, two big thumbs up for you means that I'm in good hands when I pick this one up. Great review, Maja!

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  18. I was never *too* excited for this since I'm quite picky with my contemporary books BUT after reading your review, I'm positive I'll love this!! I really like the fact that Caymen's relationship with her mother stole the show...I think a good contemporary shouldn't focus entirely on the romance but also explore the main character's relationship with her family as we!! :) Lovely review Maja <3 I hope this will be released in Australia soon so I can pick up a copy!!!!

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  19. I'm so glad to see you enjoyed this too, Maja! I thought it was quite a bit of fun, though I did have a few mixed feelings over the ending. It felt a little rushed to me, but other than that, I agree with your review. I'm glad you liked it! :)

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  20. I'm seeing this book everywhere and I'm intrigued! Great review.

    By the way, regarding your Wentworth Miller comment on Tanja's blog, I too was surprised to learn he isn't Caucasian. "Biracial" might not be accurate either--I believe he descends from quite a few ethnicities. Whatever he is, he's gorgeous!

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  21. I have been excited for this book for so damn long. And now that it's out, I have to find the time to read it. :-\ I'm so glad you liked it, Maja!

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  22. Color me shocked that you liked this, Maja! I so love that you do! I've been eying this for sometime but your lovely review seals the deal! :)

    This setting creeps me out to know end. I'm petrified of dolls ever since watching The Twilight Zone "Talkie Tina" episode long ago. Dolls were never welcome in my bedroom after that!

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  23. I am so excited about this one, buying my copy tomorrow and GAH. I don't think ill be able to sleep. The reviews have been nothing but positive

    Lovely review! <33

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  24. I'm so excited to read this! I love the idea of a romantic summer read set in a creepy doll shop, and everything I've heard about Caymen makes me think I'd love her. I realize she's got a bit of a double standard and has a big chip on her shoulder, but as long as she's cracking jokes, I'm willing to forgive. :-) So happy to hear you enjoyed this, now I feel even more excited to get my copy!

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