A little on the fence about ‘On The Fence’ but ultimately enjoyed this cotton-candy contemporary.
No. of pages: 296
For sixteen-year-old Charlotte Reynolds, aka Charlie, being raised by a single dad and three older brothers has its perks. She can outrun, outscore, and outwit every boy she knows—including her longtime neighbor and honorary fourth brother, Braden. But when it comes to being a girl, Charlie doesn’t know the first thing about anything. So when she starts working at chichi boutique to pay off a speeding ticket, she finds herself in a strange new world of makeup, lacy skirts, and BeDazzlers. Even stranger, she’s spending time with a boy who has never seen her tear it up in a pickup game.
To cope with the stress of faking her way through this new reality, Charlie seeks late-night refuge in her backyard, talking out her problems with Braden by the fence that separates them. But their Fence Chats can’t solve Charlie’s biggest problem: she’s falling for Braden. 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 liked how Charlie was an athlete – I was starting to get over alternative, quirky, coffee addicts that have been teeming YA of late. Also, the family dynamic of Charlie’s all-male family added a great dynamic, how the men in her life are protective of her whether she is aware of it or not; and how they rough-house with her as well.
Her fathers, attempts at raising a daughter, while commendable, did come across as a little cliché, I was wondering where the doting father went – he was too stand-offish and left me wondering if he was a good father at all. But he manages to redeem himself in my eyes.
Charlie was a good character to relate to, although at times I felt she was too immature, and her behaviour insulting to herself and her brothers (but sometimes her brothers deserved it.) There were also some trite moments that annoyed me, and I felt, did not need to be in the book. But I won’t talk about them here, because – spoilers!
I did take a little issue with the fact how the book step up Charlie (and her missing a female role model as her mother passed away when she was young) in knowing little about fashion and make-up as somewhat deficient in being female. I did not see her as anything less, or nothing other than a strong female role model in herself. It rubbed against my sensibility that an interest in the superficial world of clothing and facial products has anything to do with being female or acceptance by other female peers. But with that said, it was cute and fun (politics aside).
Braden was a sweet boy-next-door character, and again, very typical of this genre, but I liked his tenacity and acceptance of Charlie for who she is, without all the trappings of fashionable accessories.
Some of the midnight conversations at the fence were touching, and others pointless and contrived. With such a poignant image defining the book, it would have been good that all these interactions were kept embodying the soul of the novel – as some of Charlie’s talks felt immature and irrelevant. But this is only a very small part (and my opinion), and the nocturnal blatherings are a fantastic part of the story and one of my favourites.
I really enjoy Kasie West’s writing style, and have not come across a book of hers that I have not liked. They are luscious uncomplicated reads, yes predictable, but quick, well-paced guilty pleasures that don’t come off too kitsch.
Overall feeling: Cute but average.
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