Tuesday, June 18, 2013

The Distance Between Us by Kasie West

The Distance Between Us
by Kasie West
Read: June 2013 
Published: July 2nd 2013 by Harper Teen
Source: Around the World Arc Tours
Category: Contemporary YA

Seventeen-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. (From Goodreads)

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The Distance Between Us has a cute cover and a cute concept. But I'm going to be honest and say that it wasn't for me, despite how much I really wanted to like the story. 

Caymen Meyers is 17 and poor. Her lack of money is her most defining characteristic. She lives above her mother's struggling porcelain doll shop and has resigned herself to a life of mediocrity. Caymen has decided that it's better to be content about the life that she has than have any ambition at all. Because Caymen's wealthy father ran out on her mother when he got her pregnant, Caymen's mother has ingrained in her that rich people are untrustworthy and have short attention spans. The only thing they're good for is buying the expensive dolls in her shop. Then Xander Spence comes into the doll shop to buy something for his grandmother. He is clearly very rich, so Caymen can't figure out why he seems to be interested in her. And though Caymen enjoys spending time with Xander, she won't let herself get too close, because she knows he won't be around for long. Except that, the more Caymen gets to know Xander, the harder it is for her to stay away. 

Caymen and Xander connect over the fact that they are stuck in similar situations, under parental expectations. Well, Xander connects to Caymen that way. Caymen never buys that she has anything in common with Xander. But despite Caymen's negativity and their extreme differences in wealth, both Caymen and Xander feel like they have no control over their futures. Because neither knows what they want out of life, except that it's definitely different from where they're headed, the two of them embarked on a series of career dates to determine what each other should do. I liked this set-up for the book and their initial connection. I also enjoyed watching Caymen slowly learn that not all rich are like her father, as well as seeing Caymen introduce Xander to her side of life. The salvation army scene was particularly fun for that.  However, I didn't really appreciate Caymen's constant contrasting her life with Xander's. A few times were plenty to get the point across. Yet, anytime they were together, and often when they weren't, she was thinking about how much wealthier he was than her. It was exhausting. 

I also wasn't all that excited about the characters in this story. I never really warmed up to Caymen. I found her dry sarcastic humor to be irritating (I know many people have enjoyed her wit), and was frustrated with her inability to believe that she could do anything with her life, because she was raised without a lot of money. I also think the villain in this story, if there was one, would be her mother. Despite how much Caymen told the reader how great her relationship with her mom was, her mom came across as a selfish, irresponsible, bitter person who heaped too much pressure on her daughter. Even before we found out that Caymen's mom was hiding something, I didn't care for her. Caymen's relationship with her read as uncomfortably co-dependent, instead of a fun single-mother/daughter bond. 

Then there was Mason, who was supposed to present an alternative choice to Xander, because he came from her side of the tracks. Unfortunately, Mason had not one compelling quality besides his singing voice. I just wanted him expunged from the book all together. I did like Xander, as well as Caymen's one quirky friend Skye, however, neither of them made a lasting impression on me.  

The best scene in the book was the one involving Skye and toilet paper. I laughed out loud at it, but also thought it signaled a positive turning point in Caymen's life. The scene after was equally good. I wish there'd been more moments like those in this story, and that the book hadn't ended as conveniently as it did. 

My major problem with this book is that I disagree with its message. I wanted to see Caymen allow herself to want things, and believe that she could make something out of her life, despite her lack of money. I also wish that Caymen's mother had encouraged her to live her own life, or that Caymen had figured that out for herself, despite her mother's feelings. I don't like that Caymen seemed to have no joy or future prospects just because she had no money. Then the ending was way too perfect, and actually made this message even worse.

In her review, my friend Heather @ The Flyleaf Review talks about how The Distance Between Us reminded her of Pretty in Pink, which I can definitely see. (She liked this book much better than I did, so you should check out her thoughts for a different opinion). However, I kept thinking about Gilmore Girls when I read The Distance Between Us. Although some of the themes are similar - a single mother and her daughter and a missing/wealthy father, this book isn't like that TV show, especially in the characterizations. But with Caymen and her mom living over a creepy doll shop, and having a rich dad not in the picture, I thought this story could have been fun and quirky, with a strong mother-daughter relationship. But I didn't get those things out of this story. 

I'm sorry this review is so negative. I know a lot of people liked The Distance Between Us, and I hope you do too. However this book didn't work for me character or message wise. Also, as cute as that cover is, it doesn't fit Caymen at all. No way could she afford to dress like that. 

Love Triangle Factor: Mild
Cliffhanger Scale: Standalone



21 comments:

  1. I'm so disappointed to hear that you didn't love this one. I'm so excited for it, but it sounds like I'll have a lot of similar problem with the story! Did you read Pivot Point? How did they compare??

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    1. I didn't read Pivot Point, but I've heard great things about it. Unfortunately, I don't really like parallel worlds/alternate universes. And LOTS of people enjoyed this one, especially Caymen's humor. IDK why I didn't connect with it? I do like funny people. BUt I hope you do enjoy this book when you read it.

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  2. I'm sorry you didn't like it!!! It sounds amazing and the rest of the reviews are all 5 stars... I guess it just wasn't for you.
    Thanks for sharing. It was refreshing to read a different opinion about this one.

    Sapir @ Diary of a Wimpy Teen Girl

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    1. I know! so many people loved this one, you probably will as well. I agree, it's always good to have different opinions, though I don't like being in the minority :(.

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  3. It's a shame this didn't work out for you, but I'm not too surprised, only because set-ups like this have so much potential for wrong. I'm not one for romances involving people of different social classes - not when that social class difference is the focus of the story and when it isn't explored with proper sensitivity. Anyway, great review, Lauren! I hope something else by this author works out for you.

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    1. Yes! That's exactly it. I don't mind class differences, but I wanted to see Caymen look beyond that a bit more than she did. Up to the end, she was unable to get past her worry about whether Xander could really care for her even though she was poor. I have heard good things about Pivot Point, but am avoiding it because of my strange fear of alternate realities.

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  4. I hate that this book turned you off so much, L. But don't apologize for feeling that way. I did like it more (though Pretty in Pink is far more superior) but I understand the issues you have with it, especially regarding Mason. He really did feel completely unnecessary to the plot.

    I think that while this book will be a hit for many, I still believe that many others will share your opinion too. THANK YOU for the honest review and putting yourself out there. I know you have a tough time giving any book a negative review. But doing that just makes you a book blogger with integrity and I will always applaud that quality in you:)

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    1. Thanks, Heather. That means a lot. I do feel like I missed something when I give a book a negative review. Especially, when it's one that everyone else liked a lot. But this is one that I couldn't pretend to like more than I did. I realize that this is supposed to be a fun contemporary and the author probably wasn't trying to make a big statement about rich vs. poor, but for some reason it still rubbed me the wrong way. Thanks for discussing this book with me! Oh and YES! Mason needed to go away.

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  5. I agree with you on Mason Lauren! I didn't feel like he was a necessary character either and could have been left out entirely without altering the course of the story. Aside from that though, I really liked this one. A lot of my love for it comes from the fact that my sense of humor is so similar to Caymen's, and I know there is definitely many a person who has found me irritating, so I could fully relate to her:) Sorry this one didn't quite wow you, and I hope whatever you pick up next is made of WIN!

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    1. Thanks, Jenny! I hope my next book is a WIN too. Ugh. Mason was a disaster. He started to make me cringe whenever he was on screen. The thing is that it's clear that Caymen didn't really like him all that much, and he never appeared to have strong feelings for her either. Also, I think Caymen's humor and the way she used it at work, kept reminding me of all my bad retail experiences. When a customer would say a joke that they thought was really funny, but it's the same one you've heard 100x from other customers thinking they're hilarious? Anyway, I'm glad you connected to this one better than I did! And I do like funny people!

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  6. I think you bring up a lot of good points and examples of how this book didn't work for you. How disappointing, especially since I was sort of anticipating this after quite enjoying West's debut Pivot Point. Perhaps West's strength lies more in writing paranormal or just non-contemporary stories?
    I haven't seen Pretty in Pink or Gilmore Girls, so both those comparisons don't help me better understand the story. Still, though, I would think a story like this should have potential for strong mother-daughter bonds and that's too bad you didn't feel that was the case.
    I think I'll wait a bit before considering whether or not to read this. I mostly wanted to read it because I like West's debut, not because I was super interested in this storyline. I do think you'd like Pivot Point more, if you ever do decide to read West's other work. Sorry this one didn't work for you, Lauren!

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    1. I haven't read Pivot Point so can't compare, but I have heard good things about it. Even if I wasn't bugged by some of the themes in this one, the characters weren't super strong and the story was fun but not riveting. I'm not sure if it would be an "Amanda" book, but if you do pick it up, I hope you enjoy. Light reading for sure!

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  7. Aww, I'm sorry you didn't care for this one. I can see a lot of what you are saying, even though I did like it. Mason was really unnecessary. And I loved the toilet paper scene! lol

    The cover is like the opposite of the characters. It was he who was the nice dresser with money and the girl was the dress down type. They got it backwards. I remember thinking that when I started reading it.

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    1. I laughed SO HARD at the TP scene. That was by far my favorite part of the book! I wish we'd gotten more Caymen like that. Though I get that it was a final loosening up for her. I'm sad that this one didn't work more for me either. I know the author wasn't trying to make a huge statement on rich vs. poor and upward mobility, but for some reason it still rubbed me the wrong way. Oh well! We can't love them all, and I'm glad this book has found an audience and that most people find it to be fun and entertaining.

      Also, YES, the cover IS opposite. I didn't think of that, but you are right. The guy should be in something fancier and the girl dressed down. Strange.

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  8. Oh, how disappointing! I have pretty high hopes for this book, especially after loving the author's debut earlier this year. Ugh, and I hate when the cover models don't at all match up to the characters in the story. Still, it's a super-cute cover. ;) Hoping I can connect more with the characters, especially with the references to Pretty in Pink and Gilmore Girls...

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  9. Never apologize for writing a negative review (although I do that too)! I love reading reviews like this because then they are warnings AND if I feel the same, I know I won't be the only one. That characters do sound really frustrating and that's disappointing but hopefully I can still connect with them in some way!

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  10. I reading this one right now (few chapter in), so I skimmed your review, but it's sad that you didn't like it. I don't know how I feel about Caymen yet, her humor is kind of weird. It's definitely not making me laugh. I hope it gets better. Thanks for the review, Lauren :)

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  11. Well that's sad :( But I can totally see where you're coming from. I don't think I'll enjoy the whole fact that the lack of money is a defining point of the MC's life because well I kind of disagree with that message, but I can't exactly judge since I haven't read it yet.

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  12. I just finished this one and I agree with a lot of what you said. I thought the relationship between Caymen and Xander was cute, but not very substantive. And the money thing seemed ridiculous as as conflict, since it was only ever really a conflict in Caymen's mind. The plot's pretty anti-climatic, really, but overall, I thought the book was light and entertaining. Not to mention clean, which is very, very rare for YA lit. So, yeah.

    P.S. I noticed the cover thing right away. Irritating.

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  13. I have to go read Heather's review, because I told her that this book totally reminded me of Pretty In Pink!
    I was bothered by the ending. Very bothered, though I liked the rest of the book. My review goes up next week...

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  14. Hi, Lauren! I've read two reviews about this book (including yours) and both said Caymen's character is kinda hard to warm up to. I haven't read Pivot Point too, but I'm still curious to read The Distance Between Us anyway, gonna start tonight. Who knows I may love it? ;) But at least now I know what to expect. Nice review!

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