Author: Kasie West (Twitter)
Publish Date: July 1, 2014
Genre: YA, Contemporary
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.
There was a time (okay, many years) in my blogging journey that I swore up and down that contemporary fiction was child's fodder and that not a single author could capture my attention. I've eaten my words time and again since those days, and yet I always hesitate just a little when picking up a new summer read. On the Fence is the quintessential summer read - packaging and all - marketing to teenage and adult readers and offering a glimpse of love, growing up and the harsh realities of life. Author, Kasie West, welcomes readers into a delightful summer novel with open arms, enveloping you in the light of first love and self-discovery.
Perhaps my greatest trepidation when starting On the Fence was that there wouldn't be enough intrigue throughout the novel to keep me going. I shouldn't have been too concerned though, as we quickly learn that not all is as it seems. Charlie is a tomboy. Raised with three brothers and a father that's a cop, she can do anything the boys can. However, her mother passed away at a young age, and the girly things don't come as quickly to her. It's a foreign world that's she's condemned because it brings forth lost memories of her mother and because she fears it will separate her from her family - and the boys who love her most. There was a subtle beauty to Charlie's character arc. On the one hand, she's a powerful force of a girl, yet when displaced from her comfort zone, we see as that careful facade begins to crack and reveal a lost little girl within.
It must be said, too, that Braden has quickly secured the heartthrob of the summer title for me. I found him to be a highlight of On the Fence, in large part because he's somewhat of an enigma throughout. We can sense he's hiding something from Charlie through their interactions and encounters, but when we think we understand the reveal, we can also sense there is so much more to it. Braden was genuinely a good guy that cared for Charlie - as much as a sister as he might have as a love interest. He was protective, caring, kind and good-natured, but there was also a degree of respect and maturity that set him apart from the masses.
On the Fence was reminiscent of those warm summer nights of my youth. Powerful and evocative, this seemingly light summer novel is alive with family, warmth, friends and fun. And yet, as much happiness as we encounter, we also learn of a deep-rooted secret that changes Charlie's reality forever. I was immensely pleased with how that twist played out. It was simple and poignant, making way for changes in all of our characters' lives and allowing us the chance to watch and understand the growth taking place. Ms. West has crafted a masterful story that will resonate with the joys of summer long after the summer days have gone.
Novels like On the Fence are the reason I can humbly eat my words and say that the contemporary genre has much more to offer than I might have ever imagined. With a subtle power and grace, this is a book that you'll read fast, but once you close the last page, you'll wish you'd read it slower. I give it a 4.5 out of 5, and I highly recommend it to all fans of YA, especially those who enjoy contemporary fiction and summer reads.
I received this book free of charge from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This, in no way, affected my opinion or review of this book.