I’m not really into sports . . . okay, I hate them with a passion. But I don’t mind hearing about them so much in Kasie West’s On The Fence, which was published by HarperTeen in 2014. This sweet, summer, YA romance is about a sporty tomboy who gets thrown into a girly world as she struggles with accepting herself and her past.
Ever since Charlie’s mom died when she was six, she became one of the guys. What with her single father, three rough-and-tumble brothers, and next door neighbor, Braden, she was bound to turn out to be a tomboy who would rather wear jeans and play tackle football than wear skirts and paint her nails. But that all changes when she receives one speeding ticket too many and has to get a job. Charlie soon finds herself in a boutique wearing the girliest clothes she has ever seen.
As the summer passes, Charlie finds herself talking to Braden more and more at the fence between their homes. Then she meets Evan, who mistakes her for a girly-girl rather than the sporty tomboy she really is. As Charlie tries to keep up the façade, she learns that she must choose who she really is while also facing her past. This adorable summer romance is about family, being yourself, and accepting the truth.
Book Group Questions
- Charlie doesn’t consider herself a “normal” girl because she play sports and doesn’t wear makeup. Why do we consider certain things normal, and how does Charlie’s perception of it change throughout the story?
- Charlie doesn’t think that Evan, Amber, and her other new friends will accept her if they knew who she really was. Why do you think she feels this way? Are friends worth having if they don’t accept the true you?
- Why does Charlie not want to be mothered by Linda? Why do you think she really avoided telling Linda the truth about her mother?
- Charlie struggles with accepting what really happened the night her Mom died. Why do you think this is so? What changed in Charlie to allow her to accept it?
- How has Charlie changed at the end of the story? How do you think she learned to accept herself and her past?