Review: On the Fence, by Kasie West

On the Fence coverShe’s a tomboy. He’s the boy next door.

With three older brothers, Charlotte Reynolds, aka Charlie, has always been more comfortable calling the shots on a basketball court than flirting with the opposite sex. So when her police officer dad demands she get a summer job to pay for the latest in a long line of speeding tickets, she’s more than a little surprised to find herself working at a chichi boutique and going out with a boy who has never seen her tear it up in a pickup game. Charlie seeks late-night refuge in her backyard, talking out her problems with her neighbor and honorary fourth brother, Braden, sitting back-to-back against the fence that separates them. Braden may know her better than anyone. But there’s a secret Charlie’s keeping that even he hasn’t figured out—she’s fallen for him. 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 picked this book up recently because it looked like exactly the sort of thing I wanted: light, easy reading, and not too long – perfect for reading a chapter or two between uni work! Sadly I ended up too swamped with midterms and whatnot to read this as quickly as I wanted to – but I devoured the second half on a train journey last weekend.

There’s so much to say about this book. Firstly, I should tell you that I thought it was great. Like, seriously an amazing read. The characters were well developed, the pace was perfect, the subplots worked really well together, and the writing was wonderful.

This was one of those books that I seemed to get to Chapter Seventeen and think ‘Wow there’s still loads of this book to go’ and then all of a sudden ‘Oh… It’s over. I WANT MORE.’ (But in a good way.)

On our protagonist, Charlie: I loved how West made her the opposite of a girly-girl without making her some kind of butch, over-the-top character. Charlie was sweet, funny, endearing, stubborn, and so well-rounded. I mean, sure, she had her flaws and sometimes I wanted to just grab her and yell, ‘What are you doing?!’ but I like that in a character.

Most of the story centres around Charlie’s home life: her relationship with her brothers and her dad, and her thinking more and more about her mom’s death several years before. Needing to pay off a speeding ticket, Charlie gets a job in a sort of boutique, and ends up doing a little make-up modelling for a friend Amber to earn some extra money. And I loved the easy friendship between Amber and Charlie, while I’m on that topic – it wasn’t a big deal that they were into such different things, and they were good friends to each other. It was refreshing.

And then there’s the boy next door. Braden. He may as well be one of Charlie’s older brothers, he’s so much a part of their family. But he’s not. He’s their neighbour. And it’s pretty clear that Charlie has more than just a fleeting crush on him. There are some wonderful scenes at night, when Charlie and Braden meet by the fence separating their back yards, and swap facts about each other and talk about what’s on their mind – but these meetings stay their little secret. A kind of alternate reality for them outside of daily life.

I loved those scenes for so many reasons: the character development in just knowing about their third-grade embarrassments and such, as well as the character development in them facing things that were on their mind and talking about more serious issues. But even though these meetings at the fence could get pretty deep, they remained sweet.

Also, Charlie’s brothers. Gage, Nathan, Jerom. Gage, being closer to Charlie’s age and Braden’s best friend, you see more of – but all the brothers felt like they were well-rounded characters, and not just flat, 2D additions to the book. Same goes for Charlie’s dad.

I could keep wittering on for ages about all the things I liked in this book, but to be brief: it was a really amazing light read and you should definitely check it out. I know I’ll be placing an order for some more Kasie West books very soon!

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