The Distance Between Us by Kasie West

The Distance Between Us by Kasie West
Harper Teen | Paperback, 312 pages
Publication Date: July 2nd, 2013
Contemporary YA
Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars

Xander Spence lives in a mansion, heir to a massive fortune and has a private jet at his beck and call. Caymen lives in a tiny apartment above their equally tiny doll store. Xander has four luxury sports cars in his disposal. Caymen couldn’t even bear to part with her measly $40 for a vintage dress she found at a thrift store. Let me tell you, the great divide between social classes couldn’t be more glaring than if the sign hit you in the face. Throw in some haughty socialites and a  wealthy family willing to disown an unwed pregnant child and you’ll see exactly how both sides live.

I’ve read a book where the writer was very successful in painting the demarkation line between the rich and the poor. It’s not only a money thing but it’s in the attitude as well. Caymen kept a steady dislike for the rich, but when it comes right down to it, she was more prejudiced against the wealthy than the wealthy ever was. She would explain later that there was a rich but absent father – or a sperm donor, if you will, and how his family bought her mom off in exchange for her silence. There was also a sudden appearance of rich grandparents toward the end that I thought was not so much ill placed but had happened so conveniently that it was almost artificial.

Caymen had spend much of her life trying to be the one person her mom could count on. She’s a good kid who never gets in trouble. She does well in school, she helps out in their store and she’d do anything her mom asks her to do. She’s the perfect kid who’s happy on the surface but a mess of wanting and never getting on the inside. She gets by with sarcasm and dry humour for most of her young life. And yet, with all her clever spontaneity she wouldn’t say exactly what she was thinking.  This is the root of my frustration. She perpetually avoids confrontation and discussion, therefore prolonging and dragging the drama.

The philosophy that nothing good could ever come in associating with the rich had been ingrained in her for as long as she could remember. So when Xander walks in to her life, she had to hide him like a dirty secret. This is my other frustration with the book. I understand why she refused to give her mother an added stress but I wanted her to stand up to her. It took forever for her to finally tell her mother that her fear of Caymen turning out to be exactly how she did was unfounded.

So why give it a four star rating if all I could do was complain about all the ways Caymen frustrated me?

Simple. I enjoyed this book for the most part. It was romantic and funny and the kids here are clever and smart. It’s exactly how I like my contemporary read. The romance didn’t happen instantaneous but instead in a slow but sweet progression. I love seeing the attraction between characters grow into something deeper than a shallow magnetism. So regardless of a couple of things that bugged me, this book is a perfect summer read. Besides, what could be more swoon-worthy than a boy who can whisk his girl in a private jet?