A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
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.
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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?
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