On the Fence by Kasie West
Published in 2014 by HarperTeen
Remember when I said that I was looking into reading Kasie West’s On the Fence and ended up reading The Distance Between Us instead? Well, it’s a good thing that I did! Turns out that the characters in Distance make cameos in Fence, which is post-Distance, thus, giving away the ending of Distance. Anyway, after the glowing review I gave Distance, I’m sure you’ll find it hard to believe that I liked On the Fence even more, but I did! It had West’s same voice and style, but I could definitely see growth in her characters and the emotional depth of the story.
On the Fence is about Charlotte “Charlie” Reynolds, the youngest of four siblings and the only girl. She has three very protective big brothers…and her dad is a cop. (Not exactly enticing for the fellas, eh?) After losing her mother at a young age, Charlie has grown up in a house chock-full of testosterone and is very much a tomboy. For as long as she can remember, next-door-neighbor Braden has just been another one of her brothers, but when they start having late night chats at the fence that separates their yards, things start to change. Especially since they’ve both determined to keep their fence chats a secret.
When Charlie gets a job at a local clothing shop, she starts to discover another side to herself, a side that wears girly clothes and makeup and just might have a crush on the boy next door. But another guy, Evan, swoops in, capturing Charlie’s attention, and Charlie’s three brothers are the least of his worries. It’s Braden he has to watch out for. Jealousies abound as Charlie learns more about herself, including a devastating secret about her mother’s death. Charlie must decide which side of herself she really wants to be (girly or tomboy?) and which guy loves the real Charlie (Evan or Braden?).
Just like with Distance, there is no language (thank you!) and is very appropriate for YA. This novel does have strong emotional content surrounding the death of Charlie’s mother and the abusive nature of Braden’s dad, so I would recommend that the younger YA audience (15 and under) wait a few more years. Though the ending is somewhat predictable, there are surprises along the way. And Charlie’s brothers are very entertaining—they reinforce the desire I’ve always had for an older brother. I really enjoyed this quick read and look forward to reading the rest of West’s works.