YA review: On The Fence by Kasie West

Title: On The Fence
Author: Kasie West
Series: N/A
Acquired: Bought
Genre: Young Adult
Publisher: Harper Teen
Release date: 31st 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 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.

Review
Protagonist Charlie has always been seen as one of the guys, mainly due to growing up around three older brothers who are crazy about sport, her dad and the boy next door who also happens to be her best friend. It’s only when Charlie is forced to find a part time job in a clothes boutique, and acknowledges the crush she has on her best friend, that she realises she may need to embrace the more feminine side of herself. 

On The Fence is a fun contemporary novel. Charlie was a great character and she was far from a ‘typical’ female protagonist for a young adult novel. She is really good friends with her brothers and also the boy next door and she’s quite happy being a tomboy. Charlie doesn’t have any girls as friends, she doesn’t wear skirts or dresses and she certainly doesn’t wear make-up so when her new jobs means changing her image, she’s out of her depth. I really enjoyed Charlie’s development in On The Fence. Kasie West doesn’t make it so girls ‘should’ be really feminine or wear make-up but instead she makes it so Charlie wants to try some new things that she hasn’t had the chance of before. 

What I liked the most about this book was the relationship Charlie had with her family, even if her brothers and dad were pretty clueless most of the time. Since her mother’s death it has just been the 5 of them and they are super close. Charlie spends so much time with her brothers like they’re her best friends and the relationship they all have is really fun. However, since Charlie is 16 I would have liked to see her brothers recognise that she is actually a girl sometimes and not just have treated her like another brother the whole way through the book. 

The romance aspect of this book was unfortunately a little lacking. The relationship between Charlie and boy next door Braden was very slow going. For the most part, Braden was like another brother to Charlie but also her best friend at the same time. They have these talks at the fence separating their gardens in the middle of the night and they know things about each other that no one else would. This part of their relationship I did really like but both characters were just a bit oblivious to what was really going on between them. Once things were a bit more out in the open, it still wasn’t straightforward because both Charlie and Braden were being idiots.

As I said earlier, this is a fun novel but the romance was lacking for me. I wanted a bit more in this department but I did like other aspects so it was a good read but not fantastic. 

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