Paperback: 304 pages
Publisher: HarperTeen (31 July 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 longtime 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.
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*Silently strokes the cover of On The Fence, catches you watching me from the corner of my eye* oh hello there! *hastily chucks book behind self* I was just.. admiring the cover LOL no but really, hello there! So. You’re here for a review I’m guessing? Let me shut up and stop being weird so we can get on with it.
When you find yourself in the mood for a cute and easy contemporary read, On The Fence is the book to grab. I’ve previously read Kasie West’s book “The Distance Between Us” which I really liked. I picked up On The Fence after I had finished reading Gone Girl, and wanted something to bring me back down from the high of a psychological thriller.
I loved On The Fence - it’s the perfect read for a beautiful summers day or a cool autumn evening. It follows the story of Charlie (a name I love for a girl by the way) and the tale of self discovery and first love.
Charlie lives at home with a cop for a Dad, (her Mum passed away 10 years ago) and 3 brothers who both love her unconditionally and also torture her to equal measure. I love love love this dynamic, the whole protective but loving brothers, which has moulded Charlie into a football/sports loving tomboy. I felt really familiar with this story (probably because I grew up with 2 brothers who brought me to the love of sports and athletics) and the relationship with each brother was played out brilliantly. Each brother had a great unique personality, I would so be up for a book on each brother (Kasie, if you see this, please make it come true). Yet West managed to escape the cliche where each brother is over protective to the point of being a pain in the ass - I felt the balance between caring, loving, and annoying was done wonderfully. One of my favourite things about this book was the relationships that Charlie holds with her family, it was both funny and sweet at the same time and I appreciate when authors get that right.
The metaphorical 4th brother, is Braden, the boy next door who’s best friends with one of Charlie’s brothers. He’s over and hangs out with the brothers and Charlie so much, that he’s become one of the gang. Yet one beautiful night, a surprise chat by the fence in the yard, changes their friendship into something more; something more sweet, more meaningful - and suddenly Charlie finds herself evaluating herself as well as her feelings for Braden. As expected, Braden was cute, handsome, adorable, funny, caring - everything that would make us swoon in a YA male character. (On a side note, the whole fence thing reminded me of My Life Next Door a little bit in the best of ways).
We see Charlie deal with holding down her first job, her first crush, finding friends who are into makeup, and suddenly she’s finding new parts of herself and realising she can be more than just the football loving tomboy. I really enjoyed watching her come to these realisations, West manages to bring these changes without making it all cliched.
Yet there was a deeper dynamic regarding family, which I did feel like needed more time spent on, especially when Charlie discovers things about her Mum. For me, that issue needed more exploration, so that we can see Charlie come to terms with it. Additionally, the part with Evan in the shop, (trying not to give anything away) but I again felt like that was left somewhat unresolved, and there should have been more of a conversation with Evan and Charlie before moving that part along. The final gripe I had, was that I wanted to see more on the relationship between Braden and Charlie by the end (and this is purely for the inner fangirl in me).
Otherwise On The Fence was a great, lovely cute read that I managed to finish in a handful of hours, in one sitting. Though I had a few gripes with the story, I give it a 5 star simply for enjoyability. I smiled and actually laughed my way through it, and can’t wait to read more of West’s stories.