On the Fence
by Kasie West
HarperTeen, 2014. 295 pages. Young adult fiction.
Growing up with just her dad and three older brothers, Charlie (short for Charlotte) has always been more interested in sports than fashion. But then Charlie gets a job at a clothing store and becomes an accidental makeup model, she soon finds herself living two lives. She can't let her brothers see her wearing makeup and trendy clothes, but she also doesn't want her new friends to know about her extreme sportiness. And when Evan sees her all dolled up and asks her out it seems to prove her conclusions: boys don't want to date sporty girls. As she works these questions out in her evening talks at the fence with her surrogate brother, Braden, will Charlie find a way to link her two lives together?
West has written a fun summer romance (be warned, there are several love triangles to navigate here) that actually has a lot of interesting thoughts about getting to know yourself, showing your true self to others, and finding friendship and romance with people who really appreciate all aspects of who you are. Readers will root for Charlie as she comes to understand that she doesn't have to be all girly or all sporty, but that she can be a mix of the two that best represents her. The characters are well-drawn and, while there are some seriously awkward moments in keeping with the fun summer romance premise, the overall result is a nice light read that will get readers thinking about how they see themselves.