July 3, 2014

Latest Read: On the Fence by Kasie West

On the Fence by Kasie West
Publication date: July 1, 2014
Publisher: HarperTeen
Category: Young Adult - contemporary
Source: Received at BEA
Summary: 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. (Adapted goodreads.com)

My Thoughts
A girl who grows up with three older, overprotective brothers and the boy next door — why does this sound familiar? Oh right, because that’s how I grew up! You probably wouldn’t guess it because I’m a girly girl and not ashamed to admit it. But like Charlie, the main character in On the Fence, I know exactly what it’s like to be the only girl in a group of guys. Thanks to strict parents who didn’t allow me to go to my friends’ houses, my constant playmates were my four guy cousins and the three boys who lived across the street, one of whom was my age and went to school with me. I got roped into playing hockey, lacrosse, video games and probably countless other things that I just don’t remember. But they also let me boss them around, play imaginary games like house and let me torture them by putting ribbons in their hair (not even kidding). I never felt as if I had to choose between liking video games (which I did!) and my love of Barbies. And I never lacked for female friends at school either. I don’t mean to get all personal but seriously, all these things were running through my mind while I read On the Fence. I related so much on one level but on the other, Charlie had such a different reaction to her upbringing than I did and I was honestly kinda fascinated.

Charlie is one of the guys. She can outrun and go up against any of the guys she knows in any sport. Between her brothers, her father, a mother who died when she was very young and no female friends, Charlie’s never tried to get in touch with her feminine side. She doesn’t get clothes or makeup and truth be told, if she ever did she probably wouldn’t hear the end of it from her brothers. But she’s happy the way she is. Until her father tells her to get a job to teach her a lesson in responsibility. She ends up getting a job at boutique and all those things she avoided - like girlfriends, makeup and clothes? Suddenly they’re unavoidable and maybe not as bad as she assumed. I liked Charlie but I did find her assumption that she couldn’t be girly just because of her brothers a bit silly. It was nice watching her come out of her shell and seeing herself as more than just fitting inside this one tiny box. But juggling these two parts of her life stresses her out and that’s how she finds herself talking to Braden.

Charlie has grown up with Braden almost all her life. He’s pretty much a best friend to her entire family and while they’ve always been close, they’re getting closer. They start having these late night chats by the fence that separates their homes. It’s clear their feelings for each other go beyond friendship and I kept waiting for one of them to finally make a move. It’s a slow burning, occasionally frustrating, romance but one that I enjoyed.

(Some) Reservations
Again, I think I’m bringing my personal experiences to the table. Because a lot of times I wanted to scratch my head and say, “Really?” when I saw how Charlie acted or how she responded to certain things. I mean I grew up surrounded by guys. I had both my parents and while they were very much there for me, I can tell you right now.. there were no “talks” and when I reached an age that required bras and feminine products, I was the one who told my mom I needed them. Not the other way around. I feel like we live in a world where all this information is at your fingertips. Anything you’re curious about is a Google search away. And I feel like YOU decide who you want to be (although I’m not disregarding that your surroundings and upbringing play a factor too!). I think the book had so many great aspects but it just needed more. More length, a bit more depth.

Do I recommend?
I’m a big fan of Kasie West’s writing so I’m inclined to recommend everything she writes. I think a lot of my frustrations are more personal. And if you’re in the mood for a book with a great family, some romance and is an overall fast, light read.. check this one out.


Collaborative feature with Alexa! 

Did you have any childhood boy friendships? Did you ever want them to be more?
So you know that boy across the street I mentioned in the beginning of my review? Him. He was probably my best guy friend and we liked hanging out more than maybe either of us would like to admit. We bickered a lot but also hung out a lot. Friends (and even he somewhat) hinted at liking me in a more than friend way but we were 9 or 10 at the time! Even though I got crushes on other boys in our class, that's all it ever was. Silly crushes that would never turn into anything real. Then of course, high school hits and I realize hey, that boy across the street is actually super cute! It was then that I started liking him and we even went to my prom together. It seemed for a brief second like we had moment where just maybe something there but it never happened. And that's okay. Our families are still the best friends and I'm actually going to his wedding next weekend. C'est la vie!

2 comments:

  1. This is so fun! I loved this book so much, but I fell hard for Kasie West right after Pivot Point and I've been a big fan since then. I love that you had a similar-but-not-the-same experience. Made me smile while I was reading. I agree more length and depth would have been nice, but the length and depth did remind me of The Distance Between Us, so I wonder if this is West's contemporary style. If so, there is a place for it in my to-read list. I always need books that are a little on the "less heavy" side but still have plenty of substance to them and that can make me smile.

    Love these thoughts. (:

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  2. As you already know, I thought On the Fence was super cute! I'm a sucker for the girl falling for the boy next door, and consider it a MAJOR bonus that Charlie has older brothers in her life too. Plus, I loved reading your Friends with ARCs answer! Clearly, we had the same(ish) experiences in the early crush stages of our lives ;)

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