Title: On The Fence
Author: Kasie West
Publisher: Harper Teen
Release Date: 2014
‘We can’t let boys define how we feel about ourselves. You have to know who you are before you should let any boy worth anything in.’
For sixteen-year-old Charlotte Reynolds, aka Charlie, being raised by a single dad and three older brothers has its perks. She can outrun, outscore, and outwit every boy she knows—including her longtime neighbor and honorary fourth brother, Braden. But when it comes to being a girl, Charlie doesn’t know the first thing about anything. So when she starts working at chichi boutique to pay off a speeding ticket, she finds herself in a strange new world of makeup, lacy skirts, and BeDazzlers. Even stranger, she’s spending time with a boy who has never seen her tear it up in a pickup game.
To cope with the stress of faking her way through this new reality, Charlie seeks late-night refuge in her backyard, talking out her problems with Braden by the fence that separates them. But their Fence Chats can’t solve Charlie’s biggest problem: she’s falling for Braden. Hard. She knows what it means to go for the win, but if spilling her secret means losing him for good, the stakes just got too high.
‘Sometimes we expect more than people are capable of giving at the moment’
I was a Kasie West virgin before reading On The Fence which is slightly ridiculous considering how much YA I read, so when I was scouting out my summer reads in my local library, I jumped at the chance to read On The Fence. I had heard great things about Kasie West and she did not disappoint with her feel good summer novel.
Charlie has never been your typical ‘girl’ after being raised by her father, three brothers and next door neighbour, Braden. She would choose sports over makeup any day. So when a speeding ticket forces Charlie to get a job at a boutique, she is thrown into a whole new world. Charlie meets a new group of girls and discovers that she can be a tomboy and a girly girl. However, she is forced to keep this a secret from her family who would judge her horrendously for this and seeks refuge let at night with Braden, only a fence separating them. The more secrets Charlie shares with Braden, the more she begins to fall for him, which could land her in a whole heap of trouble.
‘There was nothing that made a girl feel better about a guy humiliating her than a different cute guy asking her out.’
Charlie is your typical tomboy. She plays, watches and breathes sports. She’d rather wear sweats than a dress, and makeup, what the hell is that? Charlie has always felt safe surrounded by her older brothers and Braden so when she has to step out of her comfort zone she isn’t best pleased. Charlie is introduced to a whole new world of makeup, dresses and hair. This was a modern day ‘Bend It Like Beckham’ and I really loved that I got to feel like a girly girl when I read it. However, I did have a few problems with Charlie. I felt like she was putting down girls who liked makeup. As one of these girls, I did feel quite offended by Charlie’s perception that we were all airheads and I was glad that she did a U-turn on her opinion of us and discovered that girls can be confident for themselves, rather than a guy. By the end of the novel, Charlie had found a happy medium and I liked this transformation as it enabled her to discover a whole new group of friends and feel more comfortable in her body.
Braden, Charlie’s next door neighbour, played a large role in this novel. Charlie and Braden have known each other for years, he is basically another one of her brothers, so she gets to see a completely different side to him late at night. Braden is suffering from his parents divorce and seeks refuge from Charlie. I did feel sorry for Braden and sympathised with him a lot. I also liked how obvious it was that Braden fancied Charlie. There were plenty of moments that proved his jealousy. Reading back my notes, one of the first things I wrote was that I felt Charlie and Braden’s relationship was forced which I find quite funny now after reading the novel because I did end up really liking them together. I was rooting for this couple throughout the novel and, although it was slightly predictable, I did find myself fangirling over them quite a bit.
‘…here I was standing in this store, in these clothes, hearing the sound of laughter in the back room, and realizing that maybe there was more to me than I realized.’
Furthermore, Charlie’s family were very influential in this book. Charlie was super close to all her brothers and for somebody who wants more family in YA, I was loving this. They were all really protective of Charlie and looked out for her 24/7 while also having a laugh. One person I would have liked to see more of is Charlie’s dad. Although we get to meet him at the beginning, I would liked to see more of the close relationship between Charlie and her father. West also took an interesting direction with the characterisation of Charlie’s mum which I thought was pretty unique. Its clear that Charlie is extremely affected by her mothers death and is never quite over it so when some secrets unfold it does have a large impact which I think added some much needed drama to the novel.
I’ll be honest, I didn’t get what I expected after reading On The Fence’s blurb but I enjoyed this book nevertheless. It was perfect for this time of year, full of fun, romance, friendships and family. If you are looking for something new to read this summer, I definitely recommend On The Fence. Now, pass me the next Kasie West book….
‘Bedazzled? What the heck was a bedazzle?’