On The Fence
Written by Kasie West
Published July 1st 2014
Thank you to Harper Collins Australia for the ARC
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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 chic 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.
Growing up with three mammoth sized brothers and the boy next door, has made sixteen year old Charlie the ultimate tom boy, swinging, kicking, running and fighting with the best of them. Charlie no longer has a strong female presence in her life, after having lost her mother at only six years old. With only a few memories remaining, Charlie's sleep is plagued by the night of the accident, the only way to stop the nightmares is to run until her body reaches the point of collapse. But lately Charlie doesn't have the time for a grueling workout, being the only daughter of a police officer, her latest speeding fine is about to turn Charlie's life upside down.
She has a ticket she needs to pay and her only option is to look for a job, and luckily Linda's Bazaar is hiring. But one requirement of working at the small boutique is that her jeans and over sized sports sweats aren't considered appropriate working attire, and Linda sets Charlie the task of finding a new look to coincide with her new position. But when Linda decides to expand her business and take on a new cosmetics line, Charlie unwittingly becomes their new model and poster child, the extra payments will ensure her debt is repaid, now she only needs to hide her new look from her brothers.
With the new job comes sacrifice, and with Charlie unable to run, she finds her nightmares are keeping her awake. Boy next door and her brother's best friend Braden has trouble sleeping, his father yelling drunken abuse long into the night. Once having a close friendship, Braden and Charlie begin to meet on opposite sides of the fence. sharing their fears, their troubles and secrets. But the middle of the night whispers at the fence fade away each morning, leaving what feels like a almost sibling like bond. But as Charlie finally sees that her feelings for Braden run deeper than just a childhood crush, her world will be turned upside down.
Having never read a Kasie West novel before, I was pleasantly surprised. It was entertaining and endearing in places, but sadly I couldn't find any distinguishing qualities to set On The Fence apart from authors such as Jennifer E. Smith, Huntley Fitzpatrick or Miranda Kenneally. It follows the story of Charlie, who's only friends seem to her her four older brothers and their best friend Braden from next door. She can't relate to other girls her age, as she considers herself to be another one of the guys by being heavily into her sports and roughhousing. I really enjoyed the relationship between her and her siblings, she wasn't seen as a delicate girl, she was included in every aspect of their lives. But where they were overprotective about anyone being romantically interested in her, they would often wrestle her to the ground and playfully elbow her, wind her and rough her up. If she can handle being taken down what was essentially four muscular young men, surely she could handle her own romantic interests.
Having grown up without any female influence, Charlie has become what is seen as a tom boy, wearing no make up, not concerned with her appearance and prefers to dress in athletic gear, being basically image of her brothers. So when she meets Linda and make up artist Amber, her transformation begins. Charlie never seemed comfortable with easing into her 'femininity', she hid her new clothing from her brothers and made sure to wipe any residual make up off before she went home. With her new sense of style, Charlie didn't seem herself, she was self conscious and felt as though she was just appeasing others.
Her slow building romance with Braden was sweet and heartwarming and my favourite aspect of the storyline. The shared conversations on either side of the fence allowed readers to see the sensitive side of Charlie and how much the two had shared with one another throughout their lives. With the introduction of Evan, a young man that Charlie met while at a cafe with her new circle of friends, we finally see that Braden may be jealous, taking an instant dislike to the possible love interest in Charlie's life. But Charlie, having no romantic experience with the opposite sex, has no idea that Braden is brooding. But Evan never stood a chance, he has only seen Charlie as a girl who doesn't play sports, takes care of her appearance and plays the stereotypical role of fashion loving, helpless girl. She feels she can't be herself around him, and is torn between two worlds. She soon starts to realise that her feelings for Braden may be more than a harmless crush.
It was cute, sweet and refreshing to see two characters that didn't follow the usually contemporary storyline, being irrevocably broken and seeking solace in another who can 'fix' them. Fans of My Life Next Door, Katie McGarry's Pushing The Limits series and the Hundred Oaks series by Miranda Kenneally will adore this book, as have fans of Kasie West.