Title: On the Fence
Author: Kasie West
Genre: YA Contemporary
Publication Date: July 1, 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.
I’ve read a handful of Kasie West books, and I’ve been working on going through the ones that I originally missed. I’ve enjoyed all of the books that I’ve read from her, and had high hopes for On the Fence. It’s been one that I’ve been highly anticipating, and I couldn’t wait to dive in. Unfortunately, it just wasn’t in the cards for me on this one. I really tried to like it, and it just ended up falling short for me.
On the Fence is told from Charlie’s point of view. Charlie is a rough and tumble tomboy with three older brothers. Her mother passed away when she was young, and she’s never really had a strong female role model in her life. Now she finds herself trying to navigate her teenage years, and ends up hurting those around her. While I loved the concept of this story, I didn’t care for Charlie has the main character. She wasn’t likeable. I thought she was rude, judgemental, and extremely immature. While I know when you read a YA Contemporary, you’re dealing with teenagers, so maturity might be at a minimum, but I felt like it was exaggerated in On the Fence.
There’s a small bit of romance between Charlie and her neighbor Braden that I did enjoy, and actually helped to save the novel for me. I actually wish that more of the book would have focused on the feelings developing between these two characters, and left out some of the unneeded drama that occured. The other good thing about the relationship between these two characters, is that it did allow Charlie to see that she didn’t need to be anyone else but herself in order to find someone who loved her.
Overall, I honestly think that maybe I was just a bit too old for this one. I love YA, but I do find sometimes with the contemporary novels, that I’m too far past the struggles of the main characters, and the story just doesn’t resonate with me like it would have 20 years ago (I know, I’m really dating myself there ;)).