“On the Fence” Kasie West

Rating = 3.5/5 stars

Goodreads summary:

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 actually went into this books with low expectations. While I do love Kasie West’s “Pivot Point” dualogy, I figured this would be a plain, easy, fast YA contemporary set in the summer. You know, the usual.

But it’s just so darn cute! And adorable! A bit predictable overall, but still cute! And just very readable. This book jumps right in from the beginning. You’ll get through it very fast – it can be read in a matter of hours. (This should not reflect at all on the quality of the book! Just the pacing and readability!)

The silliness of a sixteen-year-old girl is a bit eye-rolling at times, but i still like Charlie as a female protagonist. You get to know her very well. I really really like her character. I liked that Charlie was such a tomboy. To the point where the way she talked was harsh and inappropriate at times – it wasn’t just her looks that were tomboyish. No no, she was a bonafide & full-on tomboy! She and Braden are adorable! And her relationship with her brothers is great! Not only all 3 brothers collectively, but she also has a unique relationship with each of them separately… (especially Gage) And that was nice! I liked the B characters very much, such as Skye, Amber, and Charlie’s dad. They were in supporting roles for sure, but still had their own voice and personalities.

I did want to learn more about Braden though, and about him and his dad. It seems like Charlie spends all her time with him talking about herself when they’re at the fence, but he has plenty of interesting things to say and share but never pipes up! and when they’re at the fence they are supposed to BOTH be exposing themselves. But Braden doesn’t go into any kind of detail or talk about his dad, mom, relationship with them, how he feels, his plans for college, anything. That felt wrongly one-sided, and I felt the book should have had more exploration of him and his situations. Especially because Charlie cares so much about him. Like I get that this is HER story, so the focus is going to be on her introspection and feelings and history… but even so I just thought Braden’s story should have been more fleshed out and written about.

I liked the pacing of the dialogue – it felt real and like real life, not at all forced. It had some small corny moments, but overall the cheese-factor of the dialogue was minimal. I thought the mom dying drama was a bit forced and trying to make the story sadder than it needed to be. Like it was trying to make you overly sympathize with Charlie and make the book heavier, but it was kinda unnecessary.

This is a good book to read in the summer. I would recommend this for fans of Sarah Dessen, Morgan Matson, and Huntley Fitzpatrick.

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