Author: 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!