by Kasie West
To be published on July 1, 2014
by Harper Teen
Source: Thanks to Harper for allowing me to read an e-galley.
Synopsis from Goodreads: 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.My take: I'm a big fan of Kasie West, and this book did not disappoint! However, I think the synopsis (above) makes this book sound way more breezy and superficial than it actually is. Yes, part of the story includes a sweet romance, a "friends become more than friends" kind of thing, and Charlie's secret job. But at the core of On the Fence is a moving story about a girl who has been trying to come to terms with something really sad and difficult, and how she works through that to become a stronger person. (Since the synopsis doesn't mention what this is, I won't either, but I thought it was really well done and added a lot of emotional depth to the story.)
Like another of my favorite YA contemporary writers, Sarah Dessen, Kasie West does a great job at portraying family dynamics in a realistic way. Charlie is a tomboy, the only girl in a family of brothers. If you've spent any time around real teenage guys, you'll see that Charlie's brothers are really true to life -- loud, gross, obnoxious, competitive, but underneath it all, kind of endearing and sometime surprisingly sensitive. Charlie also has a great relationship with her dad, which I loved.
Charlie's a tomboy, and one part of the plot of On the Fence deals with her having to pay a speeding ticket by working at a boutique. In doing so, she makes some friends who are girls and learns that, while it's great to be a tomboy and an athlete, part of the fun of being a girl can also be trying out some makeup or -- gasp! -- a shirt with flowers on it.
Okay, to the romance. It was a little more slow-paced and subtle than I expected, but really sweet. I loved watching Charlie try to sort out her feelings for not one but two guys. What I think I loved most about Charlie is that she was open to trying new things but managed to stay true to herself. Yes, she might have put on a little mascara now and then, but she didn't change who she was for a boss or a guy or anyone.
If you're already a Kasie West fan, I think you'll enjoy this. And if you haven't tried one of her books, and you love authors like Sarah Dessen, Stephanie Perkins and Huntley Fitzpatrick -- what are you waiting for??