On the Fence
by Kasie West
Publication date: 1 July, 2014
HarperTeen, Paperback, 296 pages
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.
I officially declare Kasie West books some of the most important things in life. You need it. Seriously, you do. On the Fence was the much needed light, feel-good novel amid all the heavy books I’ve been reading recently. And guess what? Slow little me actually finished this book in 2 sittings, within a day—personally an insane feat even though it had been a relatively tiny book. I’m just an unbelievably slow reader.
I enjoyed On the Fence a lot more than The Distance Between Us (TDBU)—that’s saying something—and found it utterly addictive. Probably because I could relate better to Charlie’s personality and situation than Caymen, the protagonist in TDBU (I’m not one who cares about money when dating a guy). Similar to Charlie, I understood about being a tomboy as I grew up mostly with my Dad and younger brother and had definitely been one of the boys back in my preteen days (though I’m thoroughly girly now).
Moreover, I was a lot more emotionally attached to On the Fence. I loved how Charlie was insensitive and selfish at times as it made her so human. Though it might also be because I completely relate to her on that front—I can be unwittingly callous and self-absorbed sometimes, but I’m working on it, just like Charlie. And Braden’s simply scrumptious, adorable, sweet, and hot. He’s a typical guy and the typical guy hints he gave out might have been obvious to most girls but not a tomboy like Charlie.
As for their relationship, we all know from the synopsis that it starts with their fence chats. I was utterly swept away by it! The dynamics of their relationship were perfectly enchanting, filled with cute-ness and all things swoon-worthy. I promise you, after reading On the Fence you’ll be wishing for a backyard, fence, and cute boy to have innocent little late night conversations with too!
However, my favorite aspect of the novel was hands down Charlie’s family. Her dad and brothers were such lovely and fun people! Her brothers’ protectiveness and concern for her was absolutely sweet and so was her dad’s awkward attempts—he still tries his best though!—at asking her about girl stuff. Of course, no family is without their own problems but what I loved about the Reynolds family was how they would work through them together, as one family. It really touched my heart.
I loved On the Fence so much I want to cuddle with it for ever and ever! My only complaint is that it ended too soon. It dealt with slightly more serious family issues than TDBU, such as Charlie’s mom’s death and hence, the story felt as if it could’ve been stretched a little longer, especially towards the end which was a teensy bit abrupt. You know, to make readers’ hearts suffer a little longer because it is an honor to get your wittle heart played with by Kasie West.
I know I’ve said it before, but I’ll say it again. Kasie West writes some of the best contemporaries in the YA genre. They leave you feeling amazing, as if all in life is right and you wouldn’t be able to stop smiling into thin air and happy-sighing for at least a day. Everyone needs Kasie Wests books in their life. If you have not read one, get started now. If you don’t intend to read them, I’m afraid we can no longer be friends. No kidding.