Thursday, October 10, 2013

The Distance Between Us by Kasie West

The Distance Between Us is a delightful romance novel in which a young woman must overcome her prejudice towards a guy to give their relationship a chance - much like Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy in Pride and Prejudice.

Caymen Meyers is a seventeen year old senior whose mother, Susan, owns a doll shop. Caymen and her mother aren't well off and her mother has taught Caymen to have a healthy disdain for wealthy men. This is based on her mother's experience of falling in love with a wealthy lawyer, getting pregnant and then being abandoned by the man. As a result, her mother who was disowned by her parents settled in an obscure town to live a quiet life. She has raised Caymen not to trust men with money and she has encouraged Caymen not to seek out her father.

However, Caymen's own prejudice against the rich is tested one day when a handsome, wealthy boy, Alexander (Xander) Spence,  arrives at the doll shop to pick up a doll for his grandmother. He's well dressed but although his initial manner appears to be condescending, he's friendly and charming to Caymen. Because  Xander appears to be wealthy, Caymen has no intention of getting involved with him.
"The first thing I learned about the rich is that they find the common folk an amusing distraction but would never, ever want anything real."
Soon Caymen discovers that Xander is the grandson of a regular patron, Mrs. Dalton. Xander appreciates Caymen's sarcasm and genuinely likes her. So he keeps coming around to the doll shop, bringing her hot chocolate and driving her to school. All this despite Caymen's best efforts to turn him off her.

Meanwhile Caymen's best friend, Skye, sets her up with a guy named Mason from her boyfriend's band. Mason is cute, but very different from Xander. For one thing, he's not rich, and he has a lip ring. Caymen goes to Mason's concerts but she's unsure about her relationship with him.

Caymen learns that Xander is from a family that owns a hotel chain and that he is being groomed to take over the family business one day. This shocking revelation causes Caymen to wonder why he is so interested in her and leads her to believe that she is simply a distraction for him. However, the two seem to develop a bond that is based not only on physical attraction but also because they are struggling with their parent's expectations for their lives. Xander does not want to run the family business and Caymen wants to go to college to study science.

As their relationship develops Caymen visits Xander's home, meets his mother, and they both spend time on what they call "career days" where they consider possible future jobs. Despite their growing relationship and the fact that Caymen really cares for Xander, she waffles on committing to their relationship and she refuses to have Xander meet her mother because she knows she won't approve.When she discovers a significant piece of information about her mother's family, Caymen doubts Xander's motive for dating her.
Can Caymen get past her prejudice towards rich guys, and let herself be open to Xander?

This novel was a pleasant surprise, combining a sweet romance with witty dialogue and a cast of interesting characters. The greatest strength of The Distance Between Us was the relationship between Caymen and Xander - their first meeting which happens at the beginning of the novel captures the reader's interest.

West incorporates a number of themes into her novel; identity, acceptance, forming preconceived notions about others and discovering one's own path in life are several that are dominate.

Caymen is an intelligent, strong character who grows through the novel. At first she's certain her mother's view of rich guys is the correct one. But Xander treats her generously and kindly and despite the fact that she walks out on him many times, remains faithful to their relationship, suggesting that he's not one to be easily distracted. This goes against everything that Caymen knows and forces her to reconsider her prejudice against wealth. This change of heart is in part fueled by a discovery of prejudices held by her mother's parents.

Overall, The Distance Between Us is a well paced story that will appeal to readers who like light romance with a touch of suspense. A second novel about Caymen and Xander would be wonderful!

Book Details:
The Distance Between Us by Kasie West
New York: HarperTeen    2013
312 pp.

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