Monday, 21 July 2014

Review: On the Fence by Kasie West

On the Fence by Kasie West

Publisher: HarperTeen
Publication Date: July 1st, 201
Pages: 304
Source: Purchased
Rating: 3.5/5
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She's a tomboy. He's the boy next door…

Charlie Reynolds can outrun, outscore, and outwit every boy she knows. But when it comes to being a girl, Charlie doesn't know the first thing about anything. So when she starts working at a chichi boutique to pay off a speeding ticket, she finds herself in a strange new world. To cope with the stress of her new reality, Charlie takes to spending nights chatting with her neighbor Braden through the fence between their yards. As she grows to depend on their nightly Fence Chats, she realizes she's got a bigger problem than speeding tickets-she's falling for Braden. 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.

You know what West has quickly become the queen of? Adorable. It is impossible to read one of her books without hurting your face with all the smiling you're doing because of the extreme cuteness. I'm also a complete sucker for the boy next door stories. And with West penning this story I knew it would be gold. Just prepare yourself for so much awwww.

Charlie is a tomboy. She was raised by her dad, three brothers and Braden their next door neighbour but might as well be her brother. She's into every sport, whether playing or watching them and has never really cared about her look. As far as she's concerned she's usually sweaty and ready to hit or kick a ball at anytime. But things start to change when she gets another speeding ticket and her dad makes her get a job so she can pay it off. With no work experience the only person willing to hire Charlie is an eccentric local boutique owner(who readers might remember from The Distance Between Us). She finds herself having to dress in something more than jeans and t-shirts, interacting with other girls, wearing make-up, having a boy interested in her and above all realizing she might have feelings for Braden. So much change. Of course Charlie doesn't know how to deal with it. And thus ensues On the Fence.

I really, really liked Charlie. She's this super sporty go with the flow kind of girl. Being the only girl in a household of boys makes her extremely comfortable around guys. She's one to joke and pull jokes, can easily put up with their mood swings and just a really easy going kind of girl. Where she's not comfortable is with the girly stuff. It becomes really apparent when she has to start acting a bit more girly for her job. And even more so when she makes a few girlfriends. Charlie thinks she needs to be some one different around them or they won't like her. So she puts on this fake persona of enjoying make-up and not getting sports. And when a guy her brothers don't know takes interest in her she's so confused as to how she should be acting. If she starts to show him up on his sports talk will he actually like her? Charlie spends a lot of the book will trying to come to terms with herself. She is a teenage after all. You know, being confused about being yourself around people when you don't think they'll like you as you. Stupid teenager thinking. And adult thinking too. Insecurities are ripe in this book. But because this is a cute contemp everything is pretty light.

As the book is so rightly called, On the Fence, this is where Charlie and Braden start to have a few heart to hearts. They've always been like brother and sister but over the past year or so they seem to have drifted a little bit apart. And than their relationship starts to take an even different spin when they start to have late night chats through the fence. Charlie has nightmares. Which makes it hard for her to sleep. Her mother died when she was younger and she's constantly dreaming it. In waking she doesn't really know the details, but her dreams seem to tell a different story. Braden's father is a drunken asshole. So one night when Charlie is outside trying to escape sleep, Braden thumps outside to get away from his dad and thus starts their nightly fence chats. During the day Charlie doesn't totally know how to act around him because she's not sure if his feelings for her are changing(they are). Braden is super cute(theme of the book apparently). You can tell how much he cares for Charlie. He's also trying to get her to see that being herself is not a bad thing. She's an awesome person and if she has to change herself for a guy he's not worth it. It's fun to see them try and contain their feelings for each other.

What I loved most about On the Fence is Charlie's family dynamic. Her relationship with her brothers is so spot on and brilliant. I loved how they interacted with each other. They treat her like one of the guys. There's no second thought when something is going on, Charlie is automatically included. She's fierce and as competitive as they are, maybe even more so. But they also know she's a girl. A desirable girl at that. Charlie just turning sixteen means she is free from her dad's rule of no dating. Charlie doesn't see anything changing with the guys she plays pick-up football with every weekend, but her brothers know differently. They need to kick up their over-protective nature and have some talks with the guys. The siblings are hilarious together. Joking, beating, fighting. Like I said, such a fun family. Add on Charlie's relationship with her dad(he had to learn to raise a daughter, even being as non-girly as she is, she still is a girl) and the Reynolds have quickly become a favourite family of mine.

Now, that being said, I unfortunately had some problems with One the Fence that stopped me from giving the perfect rating I had hoped it would get. I found that the banter and easy flow of dialogue that I've come to expect from a West book was lacking. Too many conversations were to abrupt and one worded.
Also the last fifty pages or so were disappointing. Obviously because of spoilers I can't really get into it, but Charlie is finally served some truths about her mom and what really happened and the whole reveal and after talks were not totally realistic. I know On the Fence is a pretty light read, but I still felt the situation needed a little more depth than what it was given. *shrugs* That unfortunately impended on my enjoyment of the book. I just wanted more. And I also wanted more Charlie and Braden. Why do YA contemps always gotta end when the characters finally get together? I hate it so much!

I still bow down to West. She is the queen of cute and adorable. Although On the Fence isn't my favourite of hers. She is still a fantastic writer and story teller. I can't wait for more future adorableness.

Happy reading!



  1. I really enjoyed this one and gave it a really high rating - I think 4.5/5. But, if I am totally honest, I had a lot of the same issues you did. My main one was that you barely get any of Charlie and Braden together and that really bugged me. I'd spent the whole book waiting for it and then the book was over before they had barely begun. That was extremely frustrating for me. I also think the whole mum reveal wasn't pulled off that well and seemed a bit too unrealistic. Great review and I'm glad you enjoyed this one overall, even with all the issues you had with it.

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