Once upon a time I requested some book that I now forget the title of from William Morrow Paperbacks blogger blast. Ok, two books, I requested two books. There was some sort of mix-up at the book publishing factory or shipping center or whoever shuffles off the finished copies when they run out of ARCs, and I ended up with one of the books I requested and one shiny new copy of The Fill-In Boyfriend by Kasie West instead of the other book I requested. Happily, I've been known to enjoy some YA contemporary romance on occasion, so I didn't miss that other book for long and ended up with some top-notch summer reading to enjoy.
The Fill-In Boyfriend is perfect summer reading, easy to read with a main character who becomes more and more sympathetic as the book wears on and, naturally, a love interest that readers won't find it hard to fall for. Gia, at the start, is benignly reprehensible, choosing to be a liar in order to not look like a liar, obsessed with her image and portraying a perfect, put-together version of herself even when she's starting to come apart at the seams. Happily, her nemesis in the book, Jules, is just enough worse that even Gia at her least lovable looks better. The benefit from starting out so bad is that Gia has plenty of room to grow, and grow she does, discovering that she hardly knows herself beneath the perfect exterior she presents.
There's something Sarah Dessen-esque about The Fill-In Boyfriend, a sort of formula that pairs up a perfect always-fine girl with a guy who is unexpectedly dashing and self-aware, who helps peel back the layers of artifice to reveal the decent human being inside all that fakey perfection. As we've probably established a few times already as I've fallen hard for a few Sarah Dessen books, that formula is one of my most beloved "guilty pleasures." The Fill-In Boyfriend is fast read that brings back all those high school feelings, good and bad. It's definitely a great entry into the YA contemporary romance genre that satisfies without wrapping things up too easily, making it that much more enjoyable for its authenticity.
(Thanks to the publisher, for, uh, accidentally shipping me the wrong book? In exchange for review consideration? Or something?)