Review: On the Fence by Kasie West

On the FenceOn the Fence by Kasie West Publication date: 1 July, 2014 HarperTeen, Paperback, 296 pages Source: Library Goodreads | The Book Depository | Amazon

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.

Rating: ★★★½

I had expected myself to fall in love with this book, especially after how Adelena raved over it, but I suppose my expectations had been set far too high.

Let me begin with the good. It’s a nice, fun and light read for times when you feel all bogged down by the intensity in say, dystopian novels, and it certainly helped me out of my reading slump. I finished it in 3 days, seeing that it’s a rather short story and I had quite a lot of free time.

That being said, I don’t think that I’ll be reading books like these back-to-back, as too much of it might make you feel like you’ve eaten way too many marshmallows in a game of Chubby Bunny. I guess I just wasn’t feeling the story or the characters. Charlie’s the kind of girl that’s into sports and is really tom boy-ish, since she’s been living around guys for most of her life. When she discovers the world of makeup and hanging out with more girly girls, it’s completely alien to her. As for her brothers, Gage is the one who plays a slightly bigger role in the story, but the other two (Nathan and Jerom) felt distant. Charlie did interact with them, but their relationships didn’t seem very developed to me.

Another thing that bothered me was that there were a lot of stereotypes in the book. They weren’t extreme, but most of them along the lines of: girls who play with makeup are bimbotic, boys are quite dumb, girls like to bedazzle their belongings, etc. It felt as if Skye was put in the story just to balance out such stereotypes. Also, I wasn’t sure whether I was supposed to like Amber or not as she was said to be nice, but the way she behaved only showed otherwise.

The book was predictable – I could easily guess what was going to happen next, and I suppose that’s what makes it a light and fun read, since you don’t have to worry about characters suddenly dying halfway through the story.

I found the ending rather rushed, especially with the sudden change in Charlie’s emotions and the way she behaved after her big discovery. It was like she had been living in a fog all along and suddenly stepped into a world with blue skies and fresh air a little too quickly. *spoiler alert* (highlight to read spoiler) Yes, I understand that knowing the truth behind her mum’s death had been liberating. I was fine with the way she took it afterwards, but it was before she learnt about it that was bothering me. It is traumatising to lose a loved one – that I can’t deny – but did she really have to avoid the subject like a bad omen? Did she have to get so angry every time the topic was brought up briefly? That the people around her would feel awkward for mentioning it, or even the slightest mention/suggestion of her mum? This is different from when she didn’t want others to pity her for her loss. I just find her behaviour a little childish for her age and I can explain why, but I already sound like the world’s biggest, most unemotional a–hole with no empathy right now. *end spoiler*

The ending was too perfect, in my opinion. I personally prefer bittersweet endings, as the painful parts can really tug at your heartstrings. Nevertheless, I’m glad that happy, fluffy books like On The Fence exist whenever I need a book to ease off the intensity of the previous one.

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