On The Fence by Kasie West
Genre: Young Adult Contemporary Romance
Publication Date: July 1st 2014
ARC Provided by HarperTeen and Edelweiss
Christal’s Review – 4 Skulls – A-
I’ve come to love Kasie West because of her Pivot Point series, but this contemporary YA romance was a winner for me as well. On The Fence had great characters and a believable plot that didn’t delve too far into the typical clichés. I understood the main character and her motivations and the romance gave me a little swoon.
Charlie’s mother died when she was very young so she has grown up in a house full of men — her dad, three brothers, and her neighbor Braden, an honorary brother. She’s a tomboy who loves sports and tends to hang out with her brothers and Braden more than anyone else. When she gets a speeding ticket, her father forces her to get a job to pay for it and she finds herself working at a women’s clothing boutique. The owner, Linda, quickly helps her put some more feminine outfits together and enlists her as a bare-faced model for a makeup show. Charlie struggles to balance this newfound femininity with her sportier persona, complicating her friendships — both new and old — in the process because of the secrets she keeps. When she starts to change herself for a guy, Braden gives her an earful. The problem is that Braden is who she really wants, but he’s made it clear he isn’t interested. Can Charlie figure out who she really is on the inside and how Braden fits into the picture?
I was never a tomboy or into sports myself, but it was very easy to connect with Charlie’s character and to understand why she acts the ways she does. On The Fence gave us a very strong lead, but also showed that deep down – everyone has their own issues. Charlie was happy with her life, but realized that maybe she was missing something by completely closing herself off from other less athletic women. She didn’t end up changing herself in the end; she just integrated these new things that she actually ended up liking. She expanded her social circle and tried new activities and began to appreciate these different experiences. I know some people will get stuck on the “changing herself to fit in” aspect, but honestly, what teenager doesn’t? I think Charlie’s strength lay in the fact that it didn’t take her long to figure out pretending sucked and the people who are actually worthwhile will stick around no matter what.
I loved the depiction of family in On The Fence. Charlie’s brothers were so protective of her, but they really loved her. Each was distinct and had their own personalities and fears, but they all came together as a family. Charlie’s dad was also very sweet. He was doing the best he could trying to raise a teenaged daughter on his own, even when it required him to step out of his comfort zone. He loved Charlie and the boys so much and it was evident in everything he did. The mystery behind Charlie’s mom’s death felt a little shoe-horned in to the overall story, but it did explain some of Charlie’s fears.
I loved Charlie and Braden’s “fence talking” times in On The Fence. They were so open and honest with each other while still being playful and a little flirty. It was through these chats that both the reader and Charlie come to realize the depths of her feelings towards Braden. As a new, rather inexperienced 16-year old, I believed that Charlie would have trouble reading Braden’s mixed signals. She’s never had a real boyfriend before and being told face-to-face that he considered you a sister would give anyone pause. The way they finally realized their mutual feelings was sweet though and I even enjoyed the scene where they broke the news to her brothers and father.
On The Fence was a light, quick read with a very sweet story. It just makes you feel good. Though it is very different from Pivot Point, I think most Kasie West fans should enjoy it. Definitely recommended for YA romance readers though, and anyone looking for a touching romantic contemporary.
Thank you to HarperTeen and Edelweiss for providing an ARC copy of this book!
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