Review: On the Fence by Kasie West10:00
Author: Kasie West
Published July 1st 2014 by HarperTeen
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.
I've read this book twice now, and Kasie West is one of the authors I'll always go back to, because her contemporaries are so good.
In On the Fence, Charlie is living a tom-boy lifestyle. Ever since her mother died, she's been brought up in an all male household, and feels more at home on a football field, than in a mall. Her relationships with her father, and three older brothers + their best friend, Braden, are really good, and she's never felt like she's missing out on anything. When she is forced to get a job to pay off a fine, she soon becomes involved in modelling make up for customers, and buying fashionable clothes. She still longs for her 'old' life though, and grows closer to Braden, who she has moonlight conversations with. Unfortunately, she's falling for him, and can't find a way to come to terms with these feelings, and keeping her 'girly' side a secret from her family.
I love Charlie. When I was younger, I was a tom boy - I was on a boys football team, I was in the cadets, and I didn't even start to wear make up until I was 19. I'm an only child, but had more male friends, than female, so Charlie felt like someone I could relate to. Even though she was a strong character, she still showed her vulnerable side, especially as she dealt more with the loss of her mother, and found out more about what actually happened. There were moments when she seemed to be changing too much, and making herself into something she wasn't, for someone else, but once she realised she was great the way she was, just with a bit more style perhaps, she definitely endeared herself to me. Throughout the book, she grew more and more, and we saw her struggle, and become at ease with who she was, and what had happened to her. Honestly, I just love her.
The romance in the book was extremely swoony too. I love the friends to more trope, a lot, so was overjoyed when that came about in this book. Yes, there was another love interest, but, honestly, he was nothing, just a placeholder. He made Charlie into a worse version of herself, whereas when she was with Braden, she could be herself, and not have to worry about what he would ultimately think. They both had things they felt they had to keep secret, and be strong for, but when they had their late night chats in the back yard, they could get things of their chest, and not have to worry about being judged. Whenever they were together, they put a smile on my face, because the chemistry just jumped off the page.
All in all, I just love this book. It was my first of Kasie's books, and I keep going back to them all when I'm in the mood for something nice, and cute, and fun. If you haven't read any of Kasie's books yet, but look YA contemporary, you should definitely add her to your TBR.