Title:On The Fence
Author: Kasie West
Genre: YA contemporary
Themes: Friendship, growing up, sports, having zillions of brothers
Blurb: Charlie’s grown up with 3 older brothers and Braden, the boy from next door. She’s used to being a total tomboy, playing tons of sports, and being one of the guys. When she’s forced to get a job selling clothes and modeling makeup, she gets stuck between two selves—the girly one at work and the tomboy at home. Chatting with Braden over the fence when she can’t sleep at night helps her to make sense of everything. Everything, that is, except her unwanted feelings for him.
I loved all of On the Fence’s characters. Charlie was a tomboy, which felt refreshing—I don’t think I’ve seen too many YA contemporary tomboys. But she is also a girl. Throughout the book she struggled with the duality of her identity, but I liked how she mangaged to find balance in the end. I guess (at least for me) that everybody is defined by something, but I liked how Charlie figured out how to be more than her sterotype, a ‘big burly girl’ who plays sports. This felt really relatable, because we’re all more than just one thing. I personally often tell myself I shouldn’t do something because it’s ‘not like me’ but if I want to do it, then it obviously is something some part of me is like. I also related to Charlie with her brothers. There aren’t a lot of big families in YA books, but this was. I also have three siblings, and while I only have one brother, I though Charlie’s relationship with her brothers was very accurately depicted.
Braden and Charlie’s brothers all felt unique but the same simultaneously. Charlie’s dad was so cute and nice and managed to be both loving and strict. Linda, Charlie’s boss, was motherly and understanding. Amber, a makeup artist who Charlie befriends, rocked. She brought out Charlie’s girly side for sure. All of the characters were great.
The plot was predictable in terms of girl and guy and up together, but it had plenty of unique elements as well, such as a game of Frisbee Golf. Another example is toward the end of the book when Charlie goes to a basketball camp. This wasn’t a camp book, but just felt like part of Charlie’s life as she got her head around her problems. Charlie dates someone else before ending up with the love interest, which I found realistic. These things aren’t normally right the first time. The changing setting of Charlie’s house, the park, and the shop she worked at were well describe. I was always interested in what would happen, because I felt like there could have been more than one resolution. With Charlie’s relatable and distinct voice driving everything, I was transported into the story.
While I’m still holding out for contemporaries with non-romantic plots, and the cover annoyed me (the girl kissing the boy by the fence is in a floral dress; Charlie specifically states that she hates dresses), and the premise wasn’t too unique, the was cute and well executed.