Review first appeared on fefferbooks.com.
I finally read The Distance Between Us by lovely Kasie West this month. I kind of feel like this pretty much sums up my feelings about it:
OK, but seriously: this book will take you right back to being a teenager again. But better. Lovelier. More dreamy and fantastic. I think we need some setup:
Caymen (yes, really) and her mother live above a struggling porcelain doll shop, which her mother owns. They’ve always scrimped, a bit, for money, and for one reason or another, Caymen’s mom has raised her to be suspicious of people with money. Enter: Xander, who comes into the store to buy a doll for his grandmother. He’s rich, well dressed, and Caymen thinks he’s a snob. See what’s happening here? You know where this is going, right? :)
So, I know this book is written for a teen audience, but as a child of the 80s, let me tell ya, there are shades of John Hughes everywhere, and it is fabulous. I couldn’t help but see Xander as a new Jake Ryan. Sorry if I’ve implanted that image for you, now. It’s just best if you roll with it. West makes him way better and more complex than Hughes ever did, anyway, and remember that I just made that up, and it wasn’t (to the best of my knowledge) her intention. But I loved it.
As for the rest of the book, it may not be an earth-shattering literary tome, but as I’ve come to expect from West, it’s well-paced, enjoyable, distraction-free writing. I fell in love with her style in Pivot Point (which turned out to be my favorite book I read last year. You should pick it up!). She is an expert at writing emotional scenes–especially new love and first kisses–so that you feel like you’re right there, experiencing them for yourself. I love how she writes relationships, both romantic and not, and there’s all kinds of depth to the book, apart from just the love story.
West’s characters are, here again, varied and complex. Caymen is so witty and clever, Skye so sweet and loyal, Xander so grounded and charming, that it’s absolutely impossible to put Distance down. The secondary characters are just as well-written. Everyone in the book contributes in their own way to driving the flow of Caymen’s story. Honestly, it’s hard not to want to step right into Caymen’s life.
I’m really very picky about the books to which I hand out 5-star ratings. The writing has to be excellent, the characters well-developed, and the book has to emotionally affect me, somehow. Usually, they’re books that are either literary powerhouses, or have some major shock value. This book gets 5 stars for simply bringing me so much joy.
Clean as a whistle.