Author: Kasie West
Synopsis: She’s a tomboy. He’s the boy next door…
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.
Fun, original, and endearing, On the Fence is a romantic comedy about finding yourself and finding love where you least expect.
Huge thank you to Harper Teen and Edelweiss for this ARC.
Kasie West has magic powers. How, might you ask? She has the power to write these wonderfully real, if super fluffy books that just make feel so comfortable and okay with world. Her humor is charming, her characters are quirky and lovable, and most of all — she’s a great funk breaker.
Now, I may in a way have made On the Fence sound a bit misleading, but hear me out. Charlie is as imperfect as they come, forced to live without a female role model in a house of testosterone. She’s a tomboy who gets forced into accepting that she may have a girly-side. When the novel was about Charlie’s self-understanding, the book was a ton of fun to read and her humor, though not as dry as Caymen in The Distance Between Us, is still sharp and spot on. Did I mention Caymen and Xander make a cameo? ’cause yeah, I may have squealed at that part.
If there’s one element Kasie West does well, it’s character interaction. She writes these wonderfully playful characters and their interactions are always engaging and entertaining. My favourite character in this story was definitely Gage — he’s a bit hopeless, a touch pervy, but you’d never deny he wouldn’t do anything for his little sister. Charlie’s family interactions are written so strongly, and while I won’t spoil the novel, the reveal about her mother’s death is so sad and touching that she’s easy to sympathize with.
That’s not to say Charlie can’t be annoying though. Part of this issue comes from her exterior — she feels like she’s often fighting the two sides of herself and is “on the fence” about who she truly is. A lot of this story does revolve around discussions through a fence, but the over-arching theme suggests that sometimes we’re afraid to take the larger jumps we need to in life, thus being on the fence about what we want to do versus what we need to do. It’s a solid message, and one that runs heavy in the text.
And then there’s Braden. While I loved this book, I still might be a bit more fond of the romance between Caymen and Xander over Charlie Braden. Braden has some understandable circumstances, but he can be a downright asshole when he wants to be, and West shows this more often than not. Yet, when you read more about his home life, he’s someone you come to understand, even if you don’t entirely agree with his behaviour (truthfully, I wanted to give him a smack or two, but thankfully he wises up).
On the Fence is the book that broke me out of my reading funk and just hit all the right notes with such ease. It’s a fun, often humorous, a touch dark, and just overall a great comfort read. I feel like as long as Kasie West keeps writing contemporary, I’ll constantly be there front and centre to see what relationships she conjures up next.