The Distance Between Us by Kasie West

I became aware of The Distance Between Us when my good friend Nomes posted a glowing review of it on her blog Inkcrush. I always look forward to reading good contemporary YA novels, which is why this one got bumped up the TBR pile. I had other titles lined up but then I tried a sample of this and just couldn’t stop reading after that.

Here’s the summary from Goodreads:

The Distance Between UsSeventeen-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.

You might think that The Distance Between Us is a classic love story of rich guy meets girl from the wrong side of the tracks, and you would be right but only up to a certain extent. I feel like how the story was executed made it enjoyable and unique in its own way. What drew me to this book was Caymen and the idea that she grew up helping her mom run a doll store, catering to the wealthy people who lived in their area. I imagine that doll store as a quirky establishment located in a quaint street. Caymen’s mom got pregnant as a teenager, was abandoned by her dad and disowned by her grandparents so the store became their primary source of income. It sounds like Gilmore Girls, if Lorelei opened a doll store instead of an inn and Rory had to help out in selling dolls instead of concentrating on her Ivy League goals. And Caymen’s sarcasm is also reminiscent of the Gilmore Girls banter that I’m such a big fan of. The romance is definitely a focus in this book but I like how it took time to form – how Caymen and Xander got to know each other better through breakfast that consisted of blueberry muffins and hot chocolate (a dietary choice that I approve of). The attraction was there but they refused to acknowledge it, leading to tension and uncertainty that made the book hard to put down. Check out this sample:

“His grandma says something that makes him smile. The smile. What is it about that smile anyway? Maybe it’s his perfectly straight and white teeth that make it so amazing. But it’s more than that. It’s a little crooked, one side going up more than the other. And once in a while his top teeth bite his bottom lip. It’s a very unguarded smile, unlike the rest of his appearance, which is a fortress.”

I really enjoyed reading details like that, seeing the little things that one character notices about another. One other section that I liked was this:

“Two doors down from our doll store is a dance studio, and I’m surprised to see the lights all on this late at night. wide-open windows on a dark night make everything inside as clear as on a movie screen. There is a girl inside, probably my age, dancing in front of a wall of mirrors. The graceful movements of her body prove she’s been studying for years. I wonder why some people seem to be born knowing what they want to do with their lives and others – mostly me – have no idea.”

Figuring out what they want to do with their lives become a theme for Caymen and Xander and they spend “career days” together instead of calling them dates. It’s funny how I’ve been out of high school for YEARS but I could still relate to the feeling that you’re not sure what it is that you’re meant to do with your life. If I could talk to Caymen and Xander, I’d tell them that it takes a lot of time to get to a point in your career (or even your life) when you feel like you’re headed in the right direction. As much as I liked the swoon-worthy moments between the two MCs when they’re by themselves, I think it was nice that I got a clearer picture of what they’re like through how they interacted with family and friends. For both Caymen and Xander, their personalities are largely influenced by their relationships with their relatives. I had so much fun reading this one, as evidenced by the fact that I gobbled it up in one day. Recommended for fans of contemporary YA, it reminded me a little of The Reece Malcolm List and The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight.

Other reviews:
The Nocturnal Library
Anna Reads

16 thoughts on “The Distance Between Us by Kasie West

  1. I had the same Gilmore Girls connections going in my head. I also liked how the romance developed slowly and how we saw them with other people too. It was such a nice fun read. I picked up at the library on Thursday and read it on Saturday despite having other books due sooner. It was too hared to resist.

    • This really has a Gilmore Girls vibe to it, right? That’s a good thing because I loved that show. Well-written YA novels with slow burn romance are pretty hard to resist. I’m glad you enjoyed reading this as well! Let me know if you come across any titles that are similar to it.

  2. Huh, this sounds like an interesting one. I’m wondering about the other stuff you have hinted at with Caymen’s own history which it sounds like she doesn’t really know about. Also I like the quote you used. I like the description of someone’s appearance as “a fortress”! I like books where you read about one character trying to figure out another one. I get to vicariously join in on the “figuring out”.

    • Yep, this one was interesting. Hope you get to read it the next time you feel like trying contemporary YA. I really like reading about characters trying to figure out each other, it’s even more fun when there’s an inscrutable character involved.

    • Oh Maggie, I think you’ll like how Caymen reacts to the store – she finds some of the dolls creepy as well! Yes, I enjoyed that the aspect of the book that’s related to figuring out their career.

  3. I have never watched Gilmore Girls, is that bad? I like that you compared this to Statistical Probability. Did you like this more than The Reese Malcolm List?

    • Really?! You should try and watch a couple of episodes. It was my favorite TV show back when it was still running. I haven’t watched it since it ended though. I should probably marathon it sometime.

      Hmm, I think I liked all three titles (this, Statistical Probablity, Reece Malcolm) about the same. They’re good YA contemps and I enjoyed reading them.

  4. Oh, this book sounds super cute! I’ve got it waiting for me in one of my boxes here, so I’ll definitely have to take the time to check it out. There was certainly potential for it to be corny or typical, but from the sound of it, it’s far from that for sure. Glad you ended up enjoying it!

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