The Distance Between Us

First Lines: My eye burns a hole in the page.  I should know this.  I can usually dissect a science equation easily, but the answer isn’t coming to me.

Here’s my dirty little secret guys: before this book, I had never read a Kasie West book, no matter how often I had heard she was amazing.  Partly, this was because I just never got my hands on one.  Partly, it was because everyone was hyping it up.  (The more people hype things up, the more I don’t want to read/watch/hear something.  I still have not heard “Friday” by Rebecca Black all the way through.)  But when I saw this on the library shelf, I decided to make time for West.

Seventeen-year-old Caymen has been observing the uber rich through her own personal microscope.  She watches what they do, and notices that they seem to be very good at one thing: spending money on useless crap, like the porcelain dolls Caymen sells at her mother’s shop.  When Xander Spence walks into the store to pick something up for his grandmother, it takes Caymen less than two seconds to peg him as a rich kid.  Despite that black mark to his name, Xander is the first person who really seems to understand Caymen.  And Caymen’s smart enough to know his interest won’t last.  Still, Xander keeps coming back, day after day.  But Caymen can’t let her mother know about Xander.  Her mother would rather she spend time with a local rocker who never came from money.  Just when Caymen begins to believe Xander’s intentions are true, she finds out that money pays a bigger role in their relationship than she could ever have imagined…

I will say, there were some things about this book that I was really impressed by.  Caymen is whip smart and so sarcastic she could cut you open before you even realized she was doing it.  You have no idea how much I loved that.  That is my life, though my humor is not quite as dry as Caymen’s.  But I loved that she maintained that humor all through the book.  It seems like main characters are not often that sarcastic.

I also liked that the details in this story were great.  The little things can totally make or break a book.  Caymen quickly and easily notices the difference between her life and the lives of the rich (like Xander).  Some are subtle, and that was well done.  But there were other things too.  The way the story unfolds.  The way the characters interact.  Have I mentioned yet I’m a detail-oriented person?  (Well, some of the time, at least.)

I think there were some harsh realities brought to light in this book about social class.  As I’ve mentioned a few times, Xander practically bleeds money.  But Caymen lives in a tiny apartment above their porcelain doll shop with her single mom.  (Now you understand where her humor comes from.)  I think social class issues are slowly getting addressed more and more in YA books.  I’ve seen it cropping up a lot lately, and I like that.  It just needs to be done well.

…And this one was pretty close to the target, but it still felt odd at times.  Caymen has a habit of obsessing over the different social planets her and Xander inhabit, but it seemed like right after that, she was cool with some of the showy things he did.  It seemed strange that Caymen could obsess over it one chapter and then be fine with it the next.

Admittedly, there are many parts in the book that come off as cheesy.  It’s a YA romance, and I can’t say I really expected (or wanted) anything else.  But the ending was a bit lackluster.  It felt too easy.  The story went from being interesting and mysterious to suddenly wrapping everything up quickly in a predictable manner.  I was a bit disappointed with that.

Still, it was a cute story.  It tackled heavy social issues while still managing to be lighthearted and funny.

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