On The Fence by Kasie West
Publisher: Harper Teen
Publication Date: 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.
Charlie is a tomboy. She plays soccer and basketball, has no idea what makeup should consist of, and has probably never worn a dress in her teenage life. Growing up with three older brothers, a father, and no mother, what can you expect?
But when she starts working at a fancy boutique at the mall, she has to dress the way “other chicks” do, and she has to wear make up once in a while. Working at the Bazaar makes her begin to wonder at what it means to be feminine. She also begins to wonder how she would have turned out if her mother was still alive.
Let me pause to say that I LOVE this book. It’s sweet and very realistic; and the chapters are short and evenly paced.
I love the characters in the story. Charlie’s brothers (Jerome, Nathan, and Gage), her father, and her honorary brother (Braden) turn out to be very important characters in this story. The relationship between Charlie and her brothers is so real and slightly ridiculous, that when reading some scenes, I could honestly relate a lot to what was happening between them.
Charlie’s dad is another character who develops surprisingly well. As a father of three grown boys, he finds it challenging to raise his only daughter, and so is normally clueless as to how to raise Charlie. Despite his challenges, he loves his daughter, and doesn’t spoil her simply because she is a girl.
Last, but certainly not least, is Braden. He is one of many boys who likes Charlie, but hasn’t the slightest idea how to go about telling her. He is also her neighbour, and is practically part of the family. He has his own issues at home, and as he and Charlie get to know each other better by the fence every night, he lets her see a side of him no one else is privy to. I like that Braden fits right in with Charlie’s family, and I like the “thing” that is going on between them.
Towards the end of the book, I was surprised to discover a mysterious side to this story that I never would have predicted. That just adds a nice touch to the story, and explains some things that go on in the story.
In a nutshell, On the Fence is a refreshing, sweet, and realistic read. It kept me turning its pages for more, with a big, goofy grin on my face. 🙂
I have heard that this book is a companion novel to another book, but it can be read as a standalone. I should know, ‘cuz that’s exactly what I did!