Title: On the Fence
Author: Kasie West
Release Date: July 1st 2014
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 long-time neighbour 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.
– Blurb courtesy of goodreads.com
My Thoughts On…
Charlie has always been just one of the guys; she takes part in her brothers insane dares, plays pick-up football, and knows more about basketball than most of them. She has no desire to be one of the normal girls she sees hanging around in malls, wearing clothes showing off their figures and makeup, she’s content with her hair tied up and her baggy clothes hiding her figure. Until the day she gets caught speeding.
When her dad finds out about the ticket instead of paying it off for her like before he makes Charlie get a job, not only to pay off her most recent ticket but also to pay him back for the one before and the rise in car insurance they will likely cause. After Charlie finds a job in Linda’s Bazaar she starts becoming a different version of herself; a girl with a mother, a girl who wears pretty clothes and is a model for make-up sessions, a girl who hangs out with other girls after work instead of playing football with her brothers. Even the girl who draws a boy’s attention.
But in spite of her new job and her new ‘her’ most nights Charlie can’t sleep. Nightmare of her night her mother died keep her awake so instead she goes into the garden where she starts talking to Braden through the fence. It becomes their secret; the two of them sharing secrets about each other and not mentioning it again during the day. Braden knows everything about Charlie, but he doesn’t know about her new clothes, the make-up, or the guy.
Charlie starts becoming two different people; balancing her work life and everything that goes with it alongside her home life playing pick-up football with her brother’s and Braden. She starts facing her feelings, both the unearthed ones about her mother’s death and the subject of her nightmares, and about her feelings for Braden which deepen with every meeting at the fence they have.
Charlie has always been a tomboy but one of the things I liked about her was that she doesn’t view other girls, girls who are more concerned with their appearance and boys, with scorn but instead sees them as something she has no desire to be. She loves being treated as one of the guys with her brothers; someone who isn’t fragile and who knows as much about sports as they do. However at the same time she wants to be seen as desirable and attractive by a boy she likes.
The Charlie she becomes at work is someone who wears pretty clothes and make-up, who has fun at concerts and has a boy who is interested in her. It’s a different life even if she has to pretend; pretend that her mother is alive to her boss and pretend that she knows nothing more about sports than any other girl would to Evan.
Braden has been a part of Charlie’s life since the beginning. They have been neighbours for years and best friends, Charlie is as close to Braden as she is her brothers. Braden maintains he knows everything about Charlie and can be as protective of her as her brothers are. He doesn’t see why Charlie is changing herself to fit in with Evan, he knows she was desirable to guys before she wore make-up and he doesn’t feel their relationship means anything if she has to lie about who she is.
While I enjoyed Charlie and Braden as separate characters I didn’t think there was as much development to their relationship as there was between Lily and her mysterious pen pal in P.S. I Like You, and between Caymen and Xander in The Distance Between Us. This could be just because Charlie and Braden already have that foundation the other characters didn’t, being friends for so long, but I still would have liked to see more of their feelings develop and more of their fence chats.
One thing I love about contemporary books is the family dynamic, and Charlie’s family is everything I love to read; loud and chaotic but close and loyal to one another. Her father has always made so much more of an effort with Charlie, trying to make up for the fact that her mother died and couldn’t teach her about boys and periods. Her brothers are loud and very over protective, but at times they seemed to blur together a little in my mind, becoming JeromNathanGage instead of Jerom, Nathan and Gage. I felt like that about Alison a little as well, Charlie’s friend from work, that her development was kind of lacking a little.
While On the Fence wasn’t my favourite Kasie West book it was still a cute story, and a really quick read as well at less than 300 pages. If you’re looking for a light YA contemporary romance; a fast read with a fluffy romance and an engaging story then I’d recommend this book, along with everything else Kasie West has written.
What did you think of On the Fence? Was it a favourite of yours or could you just not get into the story? Let me know.