Sunday, October 29, 2017

"On the Fence" by Kasie West

Moms of teenage girls, listen up: If you're looking for YA romance novels that are safe for everyone, check out Kasie West's books. I've now read 2-1/4 of her books (that 1/4 is her latest, Lucky in Love, which I just couldn't get into), and I can't remember a single swear word, instance of teen drinking, or sexual content that goes beyond fairly undescriptive kisses. Plus, the books are, for the most part, so much fun to read!

I read On the Fence in about three hours because I simply couldn't put it down! It's easily my favorite of West's books ... so far, anyway!

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.

Oh, my goodness. On the Fence is too cute! In the first few pages, I wasn't much of a fan of Charlie, as her disregard for the speed limit and her habit of relying on her dad's name to get out of tickets (he's a cop) grated on me. But once her three older brothers and honorary brother Braden appeared on the page, I was all in.

Of course, it's obvious as soon as Charlie and Braden interact that they're going to fall in love, but the joy is in the journey. Their slow-burn romance is so sweet and took a couple turns I didn't expect, yet it was wholly satisfying.

Braden and Charlie both have some serious issues to work through—his involving his alcoholic father and hers stemming back to her mother's death a decade before—but things never get too heavy. Some readers might accuse West of treating serious life problems with too light a hand, but I was grateful that the tone never became depressing or dark.

I also loved the way that Charlie began to embrace her femininity. It wasn't an easy balance to strike at first, as she almost became two different people—the tomboy Charlie at home and the makeup-wearing, fashionable Charlie at work and with her newfound girlfriends. But she grew and changed and settled into the "real" Charlie: girly at times but still sporty and fun.

I will admit that at times, a character would be mentioned, and I'd think, "WHO???" ... but it was never a character that actually mattered to the story, just a side character with no bearing on the plot.

Overall, I loved this book, and it's renewed my interest in reading West's other novels. 4-1/2 stars.

Buy the book.
Read my review of West's By Your Side (3-1/2 stars).

Kasie West lives with her family in central California, where the heat tries to kill her with its 115-degree stretches. She graduated from Fresno State University with a BA degree that has nothing to do with writing. Visit her online at

Disclosure of Material Connection: I borrowed this book from my local library and chose to review it. The opinions expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

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