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On the Fence Paperback – July 1, 2014
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From School Library Journal
Gr 8 Up—West crafts a beautiful story that will hook lovers of contemporary teen romance. Ever since her mom died, Charlie, a 16-year-old tomboy who loves all things sports, spends most of her time playing pick-up games with her three brothers and next-door neighbor Braden. But when Charlie's dad makes her get a job to pay off a speeding ticket, she lands a job at a clothing store where she must model make-up and be more feminine than she's ever cared to be. Soon she's in over her head with lies—lying to her dad, her boss, and a cute boy who's never seen the tomboy side of her. The only thing that saves her are her late night fence chats with Braden, who she is slowly beginning to fall in love with but can't risk losing. This tale is eloquently written and goes deeper than most teen romances dare to go. For fans of Susane Colasanti and Stephanie Perkins.—Candyce Pruitt-Goddard, Hartford Public Library, CT
Praise for THE DISTANCE BETWEEN US: “THE DISTANCE BETWEEN US shines! This book is rich with sparkling dialogue, clever wit and sweet romance.” (Daisy Whitney, author of THE MOCKINGBIRDS and WHEN YOU WERE HERE)
“An antidote to dystopian and post–apocalyptic fiction, this Cinderella story is sweet and hopeful.” (Kirkus Reviews)
The charming story is beautifully written, and the characters are well developed. West’s novel is sweet and captivating. (School Library Journal)
Praise for PIVOT POINT “An expertly plotted, deliciously clever story.” (Kiersten White, NEW YORK TIMES bestselling author of PARANORMALCY)
“PIVOT POINT is at once tense and romantic, challenging and engaging. It’s a truly remarkable debut.” (Robison Wells, author of VARIANT)
“West’s premise is a winner, and Addie is the kind of heroine readers would want as a best friend—loyal, unpretentious, and thoughtful.…What truly makes West’s story memorable, however, is Addie’s wry humor…and the book’s fascinating exploration of how life can change with one simple choice.” (Publishers Weekly (starred review))
“West’s debut showcases riveting storytelling.” (Kirkus Reviews)
“With superb storytelling, a masterful blend of paranormal and normal, a helping of wit and humor, and a mouthwatering romance, PIVOT POINT is one of the most delicious books I’ve read.” (Elana Johnson, author of POSSESSION)
“West has created an intricately woven story of two possible futures. This debut novel…is a welcome change.” (School Library Journal)
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Top Customer Reviews
Before I get into my thoughts I just want you guys to know that, yes, I did enjoy this book. It was a great contemporary romance that had some wonderfully touching moments and there were parts of the story that were intimately familiar to me. Unfortunately, I just found West’s writing to be a little too surface level for me to connect to the characters and in turn, to the story.
Charlie’s character is a refreshing change of pace from a lot of the female characters in young adult contemporaries out there today; she’s an athletic, no frills kind of girl who spends most of her time in the company of her brothers getting roughed up and dirty. It’s when we get a glimpse of Charlie’s demons that we start to understand that there is much more to her than her tough exterior. Charlie’s recurring nightmares clue us in early on that she struggles with some pretty heavy stuff. She lost her mother when she was young and has spent her time mourning that loss and being fiercely protective of her mother’s memory. She finds an outlet to this pain and frustration through running, but at what point does the physical act of running become the emotional act of avoiding her problems?
That’s where Braden comes in; most of her life he’s been the guy next door who’s more a brother than he is a neighbor. But thanks to their late night talks at the fence, things begin to change between them and she realizes that their friendship may go deeper than either of them realize. Braden helps Charlie to open up and discover the feelings she’s been holding inside and remember things that had long since been forgotten. I really enjoyed their relationship and felt like Braden was exactly what Charlie needed, but I really would have loved to see West delve deeper into the new relationship the two were forming. Oh, and a little more swoon would have definitely been appreciated. What can I say? I’m a sucker for swoon!
I do have to say that the one relationship I found myself connecting with the most was the relationship between Charlie and her father. There was one passage in the book in particular that really struck me:
“He was my childhood. My Life. I remembered him at every important event, every unimportant event.”
Out of the entire book this passage moved me the most, since it reminded me so much of my own relationship with my father. My parents divorced when I was only 2 years old and my father had custody of me. For as long as I can remember he was the one who was always there; his influence colors every corner of my childhood and I wouldn’t be the woman I am today without his guidance and wisdom. I related so closely with the relationship Charlie had with her own father and honestly, their relationship was my most favorite of the whole book.
This book was a what I would consider an “in between” book, something that I would read while in the midst of a book hangover to get me back on track, or as a quick read for an afternoon at the pool or beach. It was a perfectly enjoyable read but, for me, I would have loved to see a little more character development to really connect me to the story.
"Sometimes we expect more that people are capable of giving at the moment” - Kasie West, On the Fence
It took no time at all for me to realize these characters, Kasie's writing style, and the overall concept was precisely the type of story that makes my reader heart happy. *insert heart eye emoji* On the Fence is a sweet little story about girl who’s the very definition of a “tomboy.” Growing up in a household of boys and raised by a father is bound to do that to one.
What I find so interesting about this are the ways Charlie begins to expand her horizons, realizing that just because she fit into (and felt most comfortable) in one world didn’t mean the opposite was worth nothing. She began to want some variation in her life. She found the life of being a “girl” wasn’t really so bad. This is something I liked and enjoyed about "On the Fence." Her shifting personality is a natural progression.
The other pro of the story are the characters. All of them (yes, all!) play an important role in the story, and I don’t think I remember anyone who felt “unnecessary.” Another pro is that no character is unreasonable or there for mere “drama.” I felt like all of the characters were likable, and some of whom even need their own story. Of course, as is the hallmark of Kasie’s signature style, the romance is swoony sweet. (Both Braden and Charlie have scars in need of healing.) Everything ends how you “know” it will from the first page, and it’s all perfectly, simplistically perfect.
Those who love simple (used as the greatest compliment) romances with characters that support rather than hinder the story will enjoy this. It’s an easy read for those of us looking for something to read on these dreary final winter days. The joy of the story isn’t about overthinking or trying to find something sinister around the next corner. The joy is in the sweet journey these characters experience. Perhaps it’s not a life-changing one, but it does challenge the characters as they are, and sometimes that’s the best kind of result.
Content: there may be a few minor suggestive remarks/innuendo, but On the Fence is a clean PG13 or PG rated story.
Many things about this novel!
I loved the family dynamic and how Charlie seemed to always fit in but still didn’t. Charlotte (Charlie) is a tomboy. Ever since her mother died when she was six, Charlie has been the only female in her family. She's got three older brothers and a father as well as a tight friendship with her next door neighbor, Braden. I absolutely loved Charlie and her tough and hard-centred core.
I adored the relationship Charlie held with her brothers. They treat her as an equal and include her in everything. It was incredibly entertaining to watch them bicker and they're always looking out for one and another. One of the best sibling relationships I've seen so far.
The only problem I had was that I felt like Charlie didn’t evolve as a character throughout the book. I loved her and I felt for her and her issues with her mother. But I do feel like we skimmed the surface. (Yes, I know 300 pages and that’s how I feel.)
I did enjoy the late night fence talks and how their romance bloomed a little from it. However, I felt like most of the characters, especially the brothers, weren't fleshed out and the story ended a little too abruptly. I’m not sure what it was but I wanted more romance and I was left a little disappointed.
The actual romance happened so quick that I found myself scrolling back to check if I missed some parts, but I didn’t. A slower, more elaborate process would have been much more believable but overall, this was a generally enjoyable read and it has a giddily happy ending.