What I Just Read: On the Fence by Kasie West
By: Keira S., Teen Blogger
On The Fence by Kasie West is a fiction book about love, inner beauty, and finding yourself. For 16-year-old Charlie Reynolds, being raised by a single dad and three older brothers has its benefits. Gage, Nathan, and Jerome have taught her to outrun, outscore, and outwit every boy she knows — including her neighbor and honorary fourth brother, Braden. But when it comes to doing girl things? Charlie doesn’t know the first thing about anything.
When Charlie gets yet another speeding ticket, her dad makes her get a job to pay them all off. She starts working at a chichi boutique and finds herself in a strange new world of makeup, lacy skirts, and fake jewels. This is a fish-out-of-water scenario, which is okay; we’ve all been there. We’ve all been in situations where we don’t know what to say, what to do, or how to hold our hands in a non-awkward way.
Something else we’ve all encountered is the pressure to fit in, even when we don’t want to. Fitting in is fine; it’s when we try to be who we’re not that it becomes a problem. Charlie doesn’t know what to do with her feelings of disconnect, so she thinks this job might make her into what she should be, and like what she should like. Charlie starts to do things that she thinks will make it easier to deal with her struggles, but the reader can tell this backfires. Trying to be who you’re not feels weird, and it looks strange to the people who know you well.
What’s even weirder is she’s pretending her mom is still alive, so she won’t get any sorrow-filled stares from her new boss. That’s sticky. Or better yet, Charlie spends time with a boy who doesn’t think she likes sports and has never seen her tear it up in a pickup game. She even goes along with it to please him, because she doesn’t know how to be herself around him. On top of that, she can’t sleep. When we can’t sleep, even normal stress in our lives feels huge — not to mention Charlie’s massive challenges.
To cope with the stress of faking her way through this new reality and the stress of the horrifying nightmares Charlie is having of her mom, she finds herself seeking late-night refugee in her backyard, talking out her problems with Braden by the fence the separates there two yards. They talk about everything that’s going on in their lives and even start a competition of who knows the other person better. She explains her nightmares; she can tell he knows something about her mom that she doesn’t. However, these late-night chats can’t solve all of Charlie’s problems, she’s falling for Branden. Hard. She doesn’t know if this is going to affect their friendship, so she hides it from him and everyone else.
I thought this book was amazing and it had me smiling from start to finish, which is important because it deals with confusing and heavy issues. It kind of reminded me of school, where most people act one way to their peers and when they get home they act totally different with siblings, parents, and everyone.
If you’re in need of a short book about love, but also needing some deeper moments, then definitely pick this one up. The one thing I disliked is that they say that these specific traits, like shopping and makeup, are for girls and that girls need to pretend to dislike sports and getting dirty so a boy will like them. Charlie doesn’t have an “ah-ha!” moment where she realizes she doesn’t have to conform to an idea of what it means to be a girl that doesn’t fit her; she can be a girl in the way that makes sense to her. My advice for Charlie is to be herself even in times of trouble.Tags: reviews, teens, What I Just Read