Review: On the Fence by Kasie West

On the Fence
by Kasie West
Series: Standalone
Released on: July 1st, 2014
Published by: HarperTeen
Rating: 4.5 stars
Word rating: SHIIIIP!
Reviewed by: Blythe

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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 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.

Fun, original, and endearing, On the Fence is a romantic comedy about finding yourself and finding love where you least expect.

Kasie West, you guys. I could literally end my review right there and I'm pretty sure most of you would still know exactly what I mean. Having read most of her novels (all but one, which I plan on reading in the next few weeks), I think it's safe to say that a few things are absolutely guaranteed with Kasie West: excellent swoons, brilliant snark, and amazing characters and relationships. As expected, Kasie West delivers on this with On the Fence, and I think the outcome of it all may just be my favorite of hers; with On the Fence, Kasie West proves her versatility as a contemporary writer, and showcases her talent of weaving engaging story lines each with refreshing characters and relationships. 

First off, with swoons, Kasie West succeeds in this department, as always. Even before starting the novel, I shipped Charlie and Braden, just for the concept of them, but their relationship is damn near perfection. Since the two characters already know each other well, relationship development between the two might have been difficult to show, but Kasie West uses the fact that the characters know each other to build the romance: each night, they go to the fence to have little chats, and, each of them being the competitive person they are, challenge each other to a game of who knows whom more. These fence chats are filled to the brim with high levels of swoon and cuteness, and with each small and intimate fact Charlie knew about Braden and vice versa, I found myself falling deeper into the ship. However, with that having been said, I certainly would have liked to see a bit more of it. The romance is an incredibly slow build, and while I was ecstatic to see the relationship finally take form towards the end, before I knew it the novel was over and my shipping feels were not entirely satiated. 

The romance aside, also excellent are the other relationships in the novel, namely those that are built with Charlie and other females. Being a tomboy, Charlie's never found herself at comfort amongst girls of her own age, and seeing her break free from her shell in this way in particular was amazing. In so many other novels, if you have a main character who is female and whose friend group is predominately male, I've found she would more often than not shame and hate on other females who differ from her; this is not the case with On the Fence. Throughout the novel, Charlie branches out and opens herself to other women, and the results in each of the relationships are really sweet. I loved Charlie's character development in this sense, and also loved how she picked up more feminine things like make-up along the way, but still maintained her love of sports and everything else which she had had before; you're allowed to have both, and Kasie West shows this brilliantly in Charlie's character. 

The family dynamics in here are amazing, and the novel gets darker than I've ever seen with Kasie West towards the end, which I loved. For Charlie, a constant conflict is between her and the grief she has over the death of her mother. West portrayed this grief authentically and with heart, letting some of the characters and relationships develop around it without ever letting the grief itself define one in particular. The lightness of the novel is not cancelled out by the dark subject matters taken into play throughout the novel, and the two serve as a balance to each other that makes neither overwhelming; the darkness makes the novel heartfelt but not depressing, and although the latter is not a bad thing for a novel to be, it's nice to have something that's sweet and light through and through, but also meaningful. 

Fellow Kasie West lovers, I assure you that her streak of brilliant novels and excellent swoons only continues with On the Fence, as does her streak of awesome snark and refreshing relationships. This woman knows how to make her audience feel, and there is no doubt in my mind that I will always be able to rely on her for that. 


  1. I would have known exactly what you had meant if you had ended your review with that first sentence. "a few things are absolutely guaranteed with Kasie West: excellent swoons, brilliant snark, and amazing characters and relationships." ALL THE YES to this. Kasie West is brilliant.

    I pretty much loved all the same things that you did - great romance, great family dynamic, great character growth in Charlie. A new favorite contemporary of mine for sure!

    1. Right? Haha. And she totally, totally is. So glad you loved this one like I did!

  2. I haven't read anything by this author yet! This review has definitely piqued my interest though. I'm excited to read some of her works! Nice review :)


    I could probably end my comment there.

    i did a thing months ago where I read all her books in one weekend and it was the greatest life decision ever.

    THE FENCE CHATS!!! I loved that so much.

    1. I honestly doubt there is a better author out there to binge read. I still need to read her other contemp, though.

  4. secondary character relationships are definitely super important. I think I've heard much about Kasie West being a great contemp writer - since that isn't my genre I wouldn't know but I always love a good boy next door type!


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