Published: July 1st 2014 by HarperTeen
Format: ARC, 320 pages
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She's a tomboy. He's the boy next door…
Charlie Reynolds can outrun, outscore, and outwit every boy she knows. But when it comes to being a girl, Charlie doesn't know the first thing about anything. So when she starts working at a chichi boutique to pay off a speeding ticket, she finds herself in a strange new world.
To cope with the stress of her new reality, Charlie takes to spending nights chatting with her neighbor Braden through the fence between their yards. As she grows to depend on their nightly Fence Chats, she realizes she's got a bigger problem than speeding tickets-she's falling for Braden. 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.
Kasie West has done it again! Seriously, this lovely author can do no wrong! On the Fence is a cute story about Charlie, a total tom-boy who has grown up with three brothers and her father, and her next door neighbour Braden, who’s always been like a fourth brother to her (but not for long!)
West’s story-telling is absolutely gorgeous, and I believed in the slow development in Charlie and Braden’s feelings as the book went on. They deviate from their normal rough-and-tumble outings to hang out at the fence separating their homes, and for the first time, they’re not talking about sports. They’re talking about personal things that they usually don’t delve into.
I disliked Charlie in the beginning! Having lost her mother at the age of six, she thinks she understands human pain, and figures that if she got over her mother’s death, other folk can deal easily with their pain. She’s quite ill-equipped with dealing with emotions, and it was honestly weird to read about. One of the brilliant things about this book is that West doesn’t make Charlie’s brothers all emotionless freaks – they panic over calling girls, comfort one another, and get sad whenever their mother is mentioned. It’s really just Charlie who believes she has to be a certain way.
This leads to her thinking there are two types of girls: those like her, who play sports and can give the boys a run for their money, and ‘normal’ girls, who wear make-up and do their hair and flirt with boys. Although the author was very careful to never outright judge the girls who enjoyed make-up and flirting, the book did have an under-tone of Charlie actually being useful, and the other girls just hanging around to look pretty. Which I did not like at all.
On the other hand, Braden was such a cutie-pie romantic interest that I fell for him in the first few chapters. He’s considerate, gentle, and respectful of Charlie’s family. He’s struggling with an alcoholic father and it makes him hang out with Charlie’s family a lot because they all have such positive bonds with each other. His confession that he had felt jealous of them when he was younger almost broke me.
This story is mostly about Charlie, who is growing up and realising that having three brothers and a father may not have given her a well-rounded upbringing. She realises make-up isn’t inherently evil, that taking care of herself and her appearance can feel good, and that hanging out with other girls doesn’t mean doing each other’s nails all the time. She starts to act differently around a new guy she meets, which was heart-breaking but I kind of understood why she thought she’d have to change: all the boys she’d hung out with never seemed to notice that she was a girl and referred to sporty girls as ‘burly’. I think one of the most important scenes in the book was when Evan came to play football with the guys – what Braden did was romantic.
I loved On the Fence! I’ve given my ARC to many of my family members (who have loved it), and my work friends as well. Don’t miss this book, it’s a sweet, emotional story that is sure to capture your heart, and a perfect uplifting story for a rainy afternoon.Blogging Outside the Box is a feature at Speculating on SpecFic, where books outside the SFF banner are reviewed. It is intended to highlight some of the non speculative fiction titles I am reading and share my thoughts with readers.