Book Review: By Your Side by Kasie West

🌟 🌟 🌟 🌟 🌟 

5/5 stars.

Okay, hear me out. There’s a reason why I gave this book five stars. A million reasons, actually.
So, at the start of the book, I don’t feel quite connected with Autumn, the main character mainly because she seemed to have a lot of friends. I couldn’t handle a lot of friends at one time as it is, so I couldn’t actually relate to how Autumn is.
But then, as the story progresses, she is so relatable that I kept screaming “Yes, I know, right??” every few pages of the book.
The fact that—
1) Autumn handles situations the way I would sometimes.

2) Autumn felt anxious thinking about others’ feelings instead of her own.

3) Dax Miller is the total opposite of her but it didn’t make this book clichéd at all.

4) Family is a constant presence in this book.

5) Friendship took up more than half of the book.

6) Romance is not the main focus but anxiety disorder is.

7) Dax is like the bad boy trope but really, really believable and well developed throughout the book. (I think he’s the most complex character in the book besides Autumn, which makes them the perfect pair isn’t it?!)

8) Dax Miller is hot. (I just had to say it.)

9) I knew how it felt to be hated by a guy who thought that I was messing around with his best friend’s feelings. (Boys: when they don’t like someone, it is so obvious that it hurts)

— made this book so, so relatable and fun and perfect.

I know some things are not resolved (like the thing with Dallin and Dax’s Mom) but some things are better left unsaid, right? I’m perfectly happy with the ending.
P/S: I think this is just a case of me reading this book at the right time. I needed a ‘distraction’ and Dax Miller is definitely a good ‘distraction’, if you know what I mean. (Read the book if you don’t get it, dammit.)

Lonely. 

When my friends had one of those days where they went moodless and not talking. And when I had to try extra hard to put them first…

That’s when I’m the most tired and I would just like to do what they do, moodless and all…

But then I would have to think about them getting annoyed with me. Then, I get tired of thinking about that too.

What I’m saying, is, I feel so alone and so tired of being like this.

An Obvious Question.

This morning, I asked a friend of mine if she’s going to basketball training. She looked at me funny and said, “No,” and gave out a sharp laugh. She was obviously wearing her sports attire, I saw that.

What I was trying to do was not to ask a stupidly obvious question and be one of those oblivious people who doesn’t know anything. What I was trying to do was make small talk. Besides, she would sometimes go for a jog even though she doesn’t have training. That was why I was asking.

Her annoyed, sarcastic answer kind of hurt me. Is it so hard to make normal conversations nowadays? 

Being sarcastic is okay if you know when and how to use it. But it is not a good form of conversation as it can lead to misunderstandings.

I don’t know. Maybe my friend was just trying to be funny. Or maybe she was just plain annoyed with me. But I know that sensitive, lonely people like me yearn for even the smallest, normal of talks.

Hence, a word of advice. If you feel like being sarcastic, try thinking about others first.

The Comment. 

Sarah hid her face behind the folds of her hijab as she watched him from across the in-campus Café. Her crush looked good today too, making her grin like an idiot. Someone knocked on her table, making Sarah look up at the sound. It was Arif, her best slash childhood friend.

“What are you staring at? The waiter is asking for your order,” he grumbled, eyes staring at the screen of his laptop. He seemed to be in a foul mood today too.
Sarah huffed and rolled her eyes at him. She looked up at the waiter and ordered, “An iced chocolate milk please.”

“What’s gotten into you, Arif? You’re so moody lately,” Sarah said, once the waiter left their table.

Arif let out a heavy sigh and gave her a tight smile. “Nothing,” he answered as he stuffed his ears with his earphones.

Sarah rolled her eyes again and opened her own laptop right opposite from his. “Fine,” I mumbled. “You’re worst than a girl during her cycle.”

***

Sarah was updating her blog when she noticed that there was a notification saying that someone had commented on one of her posts. It was rare of her to get any comments. She usually received only likes from her small amount of followers.

The blog post was one of the recent ones titled ‘Him’. It was one of those days where Sarah felt like gushing about her crush, thus she posted literally an essay of what she liked about him.

But the comment was what attracted her attention.

“He’s a jerk,” it said.

In her annoyance, Sarah almost replied, “No he’s not. He is a very nice person.” But she stopped herself, because honestly speaking, She’d never even talked to him before, much less know what kind of person he actually is.

***

Sarah was fixing her hijab in the mirror when her roommate approached from behind and asked,  “What’s with you and Arif?”

“Excuse me?” She asked, dumbfounded.

“I’ve noticed that you guys haven’t been hanging out as often as you used to,” Aminah said, sitting cross-legged on my bed.

Sarah sighed and sat down next to her. “I don’t know. He’s been angry about something lately,” She complained.

Aminah looked at me, “What about that guy you’re crushing on?”

“How did you get from that to that?” Sarah asked, feeling even more incredulous than before.

She did not answer, but instead continued looking at Sarah silently, as if searching for something on her roommate’s face. That was when everything clicked into place.

“Are you saying Arif’s jealous?” Sarah blurted. Again, Aminah ignored her and stood up from the bed to stand in front of the mirror. “Why?” This time, she asked to no one in particular because she knew the answer was with Arif and Arif alone.

***

Sarah: Wanna grab something for dinner?
Arif: Okay.
Sarah: Usual Café?

Arif did not answer her text message after that, even though he read it. Sarah wondered if She’d said something wrong again.

While waiting for him to answer, Sarah logged into her blog. She didn’t know what made her do it but she went and search for that one comment she’d only ever received ever since she started the blog.

Only, the comment wasn’t there anymore.

Even after she refreshed the page, it was still the same. None.

The commentor must have deleted it, Sarah thought. But she remembered that person’s username since he or she was the only one who would sometimes like her posts.

She found the username (Heyitsme) among her small list of followers almost immediately. Sarah didn’t know why she did it but she clicked on the link that led to that person’s blog. What she found left her speechless.

***

Fifteen minutes later without no answer from Arif, Sarah decided to just text him again.

Me: Or do you wanna go to that pizzeria outside of campus, instead? I know you like those pizzas with lots of onions and crabs on it.
Arif: Okay.
Me: Tonight at 8?
Arif: 👌

***

Arif refused to make eye contact with Sarah and continued to stuff his mouth with pizza. Sarah smiled as she watched him.

After too much staring, Arif finally snapped. “What? What do you want?” he asked in annoyance, his mouth full of pizza.

“Nothing,” Sarah said, still grinning like an idiot. “Say, Arif, can I ask you something?”

“What?” He stuffed another slice into his mouth, chewing with a lot more vigor than necessary.

“I read this post in someone’s blog and I thought I’d ask you what you think about it,” she explained.

She waited for his respond, to which he replied, “Well, go on.”

“The post is like this,” Sarah said, eyes on her phone. ” ‘Hey, it’s me,’ ” Arif chocked on his pizza at this. ” ‘You’ve been staring at him again. You didn’t even notice the waiter. I wish you’d just look at me the same way. No such luck, I guess.’ ”

As Sarah finished reading, Arif was already hiding his face behind his hands. His ears were noticeably red.

“About your question earlier,” Sarah continued with glee, perching her chin on her folded hands. “I was just looking at you like you want me to.”

As Sarah giggled, Arif reddened even further but she could see that he was smiling.

The only thing he could say to her behind his fingers was, “That’s not fair, Sarah.”

***

THE END