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Book review: In 'The Distance Between Us,' teenage love defies prejudice, stereotypes

"THE DISTANCE BETWEEN US," by Kasie West, HarperTeen, $9.99, 312 pages (f) (ages 14 and up)

Kasie West’s “The Distance Between Us” is a fresh adaptation of a classic tale — a love that defies riches and class, but not without suffering for society’s entertainment.

For someone who hasn’t experienced the stark contrast between the rich and the poor, the story may be hard to relate to at times. West paints a black and white picture: the rich get richer and the poor get trampled on. However, she takes a hammer to that foundation and piece by piece demolishes misconceptions to build stronger relationships.

From the minute he lays eyes on Caymen, Xander is intrigued. Caymen isn’t like anyone he’s met before; she looks past his hotel mogul family and makes him feel normal. He works his charm to disarm Caymen, but his wealth makes her hesitant. Her father was a rich, entitled teen when he left Caymen’s mother, and ever since she has been raised to be wary of whimsical romance with the rich.

At the end of the day Caymen is an extraordinary teenage heroine, but a guilt-ridden one at that. She puts on a strong, sarcastic and often sassy façade, but many of her relationships are plagued by a misconception that she ruins futures.

She believes she ruined her mother’s future by being born out of wedlock. She blames herself for her biological father leaving in the face of an unexpected child. She tries not to get too attached to Xander in fear that she might ruin his future and family relationships.

When she’s ready to put her heart on the line for Xander, she realizes wealth is a bigger part of her past and future than she ever imagined. Xander’s motives, as well as her mother’s, are put to the test and she’s forced to confront the demons in her family’s closet.

West’s story is compelling and unique. Her depiction of Caymen’s inner dialogue of whether the boy of her dreams reciprocates her feelings is a universal truth any teen can relate to. The chemistry between Xander and Caymen is easy and unreserved; the relationship between Caymen and her mother is painfully honest and selfless.

The story is about more than teenage love — it’s about repairing a broken family and not letting history repeat itself. West’s novel is clean, both in language and overall message. Though Caymen is guilty of the occasional toilet papering prank, she’s a good girl with strong values, and those values resonate in every chapter.

If you go ...

What: "Escape Reality" tour/book panel with Kasie West, "Pivot Point" and "The Distance Between Us"; Elana Johnson, Possession trilogy; Bree Despain, Dark Divine trilogy; J.R. Johansson, "Insomia"; and Natalie Whipple, "Transparent"

When: Tuesday, July 9, 7 p.m.,

Where: Provo Library ballroom, 550 N. University Ave., Provo


Note: Event is free; tickets are not required