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The Fill-In Boyfriend

Book review by
Kate Pavao, Common Sense Media
The Fill-In Boyfriend Book Poster Image
Romantic beach read with kooky premise and solid messages.

Parents say

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Kids say

age 11+
Based on 5 reviews

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

Could lead to some valuable discussions about social media and its impact on self-esteem.

Positive Messages

Gia and Hayden want to be "better people." Eventually, Gia learns to appreciate being her more authentic self, believing she would rather be remembered for doing something rather than for her popularity.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Gia and Hayden make mistakes, including telling some lies to their friends, but Hayden helps Gia learn to express her true feelings instead of pretending that everything is "fine," a lesson she quickly passes on to her mother.


Some kissing, hand-holding. Gia stumbles into Hayden's ex making out with a boy on a secluded part of the beach.


Some mentions of junk food products, such M&Ms, Mountain Dew, Slurpee, and Twix.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that The Fill-In Boyfriend is a tame, sweet summer romance. There's some kissing, including a romantic first kiss, as well as hand-holding. Gia and Hayden make mistakes, including telling lies to their friends, but they want to be "better people." Eventually, Gia learns to appreciate being her more authentic self, believing she would rather be remembered for doing something rather than for being popular. She also learns to express her true feelings instead of pretending that everything's fine. This book could lead to some good discussions about social media and its impact on self-esteem.  

User Reviews

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  • Kids say

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Teen, 13 years old Written byCoverToCover October 4, 2017

The Fill-in Boy Friend is an amazing book! I loved it!

I love this book and I want to have it in my book club, but the youngest person in my club is 11 and I am not sure if she would be aloud to read it for the foll... Continue reading
Teen, 16 years old Written byTheSelectionKitty February 10, 2018

Tweens will love it!

For a romance book, there's only kisses! Positive messages on being honest! One use of crap!

What's the story?

In THE FILL-IN BOYFRIEND, pretty, popular -- and self-absorbed -- Gia is student body president, about to graduate and head to UCLA, where her new boyfriend is already a student. But when he breaks up with her in the parking lot before prom, she must quickly find a "fill-in" to save face with her clique, including scheming frenemy Jules. Enter handsome Hayden, an arty boy who just so happens to need a fill-in girlfriend to help him through a sticky situation of his own. But it's not long before all their scheming backfires.

Is it any good?

Teens will find Kasie West's romance fun and a pretty quick read, making it a perfect book for the beach. It is rather formulaic: Readers will know from the beginning whom Gia will end up with and that her little lie will probably be exposed. But she learns some thoughtful lessons along the way, such as not ot put too much stake in collecting social media "likes" and how alienating it can be when you express your true feelings.

This isn't the most original or well-constructed YA novel, but The Fill-In Boyfriend is a sweet story with smart messages that make it just a bit more satisfying.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about emotional honesty. Is it worth being authentic if you lose popularity and strain friendships and family relationships? Or is it better to hide your feelings?

  • Gia admits to deleting photos and tweets that don't get enough "likes" on social media. Why does she do that? 

  • Do you agree with her brother's conclusion that social media is creating a new -- and unhealthy -- way for us to measure our value? How do you measure your self-worth?

Book details

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