On The Fence (Rant) Review || A Toxic Book With Shallow Stereotypes



For sixteen-year-old Charlotte Reynolds, aka Charlie, being raised by a single dad and three older brothers has its perks. She can outrun, outscore, and outwit every boy she knows—including her longtime neighbor and honorary fourth brother, Braden. But when it comes to being a girl, Charlie doesn’t know the first thing about anything. So when she starts working at chichi boutique to pay off a speeding ticket, she finds herself in a strange new world of makeup, lacy skirts, and BeDazzlers. Even stranger, she’s spending time with a boy who has never seen her tear it up in a pickup game.

To cope with the stress of faking her way through this new reality, Charlie seeks late-night refuge in her backyard, talking out her problems with Braden by the fence that separates them. But their Fence Chats can’t solve Charlie’s biggest problem: she’s falling for Braden. Hard. 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.


“I don’t know how to get over it.” “You can only go through it.”

I think this is the end of Kasie West for me. I’ve read 5 of her books: loved 2, liked 2, hated 3, soooooo. Tbh I’ve just been reading her books since they’re so light and fluff and easy to read, but this one honestly made me so angry that I’ve reached my limit!

So there’s going to be some spoilery parts to this review, but I mean, really, how much do you expect to be spoiled? It’s the most predictable thing ever. I’ve give you three guesses as to whether or not the girl and guy whose faces cannot be seen on the cover are going to end up together.

So for the most part, this book made me super duper angry because it really seemed like it was all about Charlie changing for a boy. She goes from being a tomboy to having fashionable clothes and wearing makeup, from getting right into the action of tackle football to sitting on the side and watching. The whole thing is about her becoming more of a girly girl, and it drove me nuts!

So basically it felt like there was this horrible message about how you have to be a super fashionable girly girl in order to get a boyfriend, which also seemed to be really important. At the end, it becomes fairly clear that this isn’t the case, and West is kind of trying to show the opposite…but… I mean, it wasn’t that clear, and in order to get to that, you first have to suffer through some 200 pages of Charlie being a stupid idiot and changing herself, and it’s extremely frustrating, and 10/10 don’t recommend.

So at the end, it does seem like you don’t have to change yourself for a boy…but… being a girly girl isn’t a bad thing? It’s all like, oh by having these “fashionable” clothes and wearing makeup I don’t have to hide myself behind baggy tee shirts, and can embrace how pretty I am. I mean, I don’t think that’s exactly what West was intending, but that’s what it seemed like to me, and it was honestly pretty annoying. I definitely do agree that girls shouldn’t have to hide themselves behind tee shirts and try to blend into the crowd–there’s nothing wrong with being your beautiful, fabulous self!!–but there’s still nothing wrong with wearing tee shirts and shorts and no makeup everyday. I mean, that’s what I do! I don’t do it because I’m self conscious and want to hide or anything; rather, because I don’t want to spend so much time and money on looks, and would much rather spend that, say, reading!!

Charlie is also so much more awesome in the beginning when she’s hanging out with all the boys and stuff! And even though she doesn’t change so drastically for a boy, she definitely does change, again with the embrace clothes and makeup, and I think that this book could have gone in a different direction, with her realizing it’s okay to be a tomboy, and that she was fabulous all along, instead of getting sucked into the vapid stereotypes of what a “girl” has to be and look and do.

Continuing with that, Charlie is super insecure through the entire book about how no “normal” girls would want to hang out with her because she’s such a jock and an athlete, and she doesn’t care about clothes and makeup. She really only has male friends/brothers in the beginning. This is such a ridiculous idea!! There are SO MANY amazing awesome athletic girls I know, who never wear makeup, who wear their workout clothes every day, who are still fabulous, are happy, and are doing great things with their lives, like getting into prestigious universities for their sports!!

So, of course, the logical thing for Charlie to do would be to get a couple of female friends like this, and realize that she doesn’t have to be “normal” or even liked by “normal girls” (and I’m using the word normal because Charlie frequently says it; I, personally think that girls don’t have to be nonathletic to be normal), and realize how girl power is amazing!! Instead, the one female friend she makes ends up being totally into makeup and clothes, and cares more about tacking gemstones onto jerseys to “look cute” than what’s actually going on in a sports game, the polar opposite of Charlie (or at least how Charlie is at the beginning of the book).

In addition to that, Charlie spends a significant portion of the book lamenting how, because she isn’t girly enough, no boy has ever wanted to date her. And then at the end, Charlie does end up falling in love with the boy next door. Now, I’m a total sucker for romance, but I really didn’t feel this one. I was definitely totally NOT swooning, and was really over it.

This is just so stupid. Girls everywhere: you do NOT need a boyfriend to define you. You do NOT need a boyfriend to be amazing. In fact, I’m in high school, and I love reading romance novels and imagining the perfect romance, but realistically I don’t even want a boyfriend. I don’t want someone to distract me from studying, from taking advantage of the amazing educational opportunities I have, exploring options, and really defining MYSELF. Charlie, on the other hand ends up with her only female friend being someone obsessed with looks and makeup, and at long last realizing that she’s worth it when she gets a boyfriend. When she gets a boy to tell her she’s amazing, because she couldn’t realize that by herself.

There were also some pretty sexist stereotypes going on. There was this one conversation where Charlie and her new female friends are in a diner, and a group of guys come over to talk, that particularly struck a nerve with me. The girls challenge the boys to answer questions that “all girls know the answer to,” and it was so ridiculous and sexist I honestly could not even believe it. They were: name four makeup items, name two updo hairstyles, what is the sheer skin we wear on our legs like pants, and who wrote Pride and Prejudice.”.

These questions bugged the crap out of me!!! This is the way girls are being represented? Makeup: I’m a dancer, so I wear makeup for performances, so I could name four, but I never wear it on a daily basis, and nor do any of my friends. I doubt that all of them could name four makeup items, and there’s nothing wrong with that. NOTHING wrong with embracing natural beauty.

Hairstyles: Hello, what about people with short hair? A couple of my closest friends have short bob haircuts, a couple of “boy” haircuts that doesn’t even go below the neck. There’s literally nothing wrong with not wanting to waste time doing your hair. What’s the use for knowing all these updo hairstyles?

Nylons: Who tf wears these? I couldn’t have answered that question! I genuinely don’t know a single person who wears these. It’s really stupid.

Pride and Prejudice: Charlie is SHAMED for not knowing the author of this. Wow. Way to reduce all girls to a romance novel. I know LOTS AND LOTS of girls who HATED Pride and Prejudice, who are much more interested in science fiction or fantasy. And why should all girls know Jane Austen? I only know her because that was required reading! As it’s required reading junior year, I know tons of freshmen and sophomore girls who don’t know who wrote it.

So that’s how girls are summed up in this book. By these four sexist, stereotypical, shallow questions. These are the questions that “all girls should know the answer to.” It’s complete and utter bs. Because those girls I mentioned who can’t name four types of makeup of freaking nylons? One of them wants to be an engineer, a job that is currently 14% female. Another is studying neuroscience and wants to be a doctor, and save lives. And according to Kasie West, they’re not “normal girls” who can answer questions “all girls can answer” because they spend their time studying advanced physics instead of learning “updo hairstyles.”

So if you can’t already tell, this book is full of toxic and horrible messages. But if that doesn’t bother you, I have MORE! In addition to that, this book is extremely contrived and unbelievable. For one thing, why does Charlie accept the first job that she can find from this weird sketchy lady in a clothing store when she doesn’t even like clothing? She’s also being paid less than minimum wage, but that’s not mentioned.

Second, why does this job make her have to wear fashionable clothes? What kind of job tells you you have to wear “fashionable clothes” to work? If you don’t want her showing up in a tee shirt and shorts, shouldn’t you have, I don’t know, a uniform maybe? A shirt with the store name on it? The fact that Charlie becomes all feminine and fashionable because she needs to look cute for work is just dumb.

Anyways, this book is honestly, genuinely, the worst thing I’ve ever read all year. It’s so toxic, and I hope no girl ever reads it and want to be more like Charlie. And now, I’m off to go do my advanced calculus homework in my tee shirt and workout shorts (0ver bare legs), with my makeup free face and hair down, and not think for a moment that I”m less of a girl because of it.

★ / 5



20 thoughts on “On The Fence (Rant) Review || A Toxic Book With Shallow Stereotypes

  1. Well, i haven’t read this (not even planning to) so i don’t know what message was the author trying to send (if any), but it does sound a bit ridiculous and can be easily interpreted as a girl / woman whatever has to dress / behave a certain way to get dudes. Meh, not good.

    Also, this is the 3rd YA book with a MC called Charlie i came across within the past 2 months 😀 What’s up with that?

    And what is nylons?

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I haven’t read any of this author’s works but I’m planning to. But I guess I won’t read this one, I don’t my reads to piss me off. I’m glad you stated everything in your review. The sexist stuffs are just too much for my taste..

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I’ve only read two Kasie West books and those were cute, but this one sounds really bad honestly. That’s a terrible message to be sending young girls. Glad I read your review!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I read this one and was honestly really underwhelmed by it. I totally see what you were saying about the messages though. When I first read it, I thought that perhaps Kasie West was trying to show how Charlie could be a tomboy and “girly girl” at the same time, and that she is ultimately composed of aspects from both these stereotypes. She didn’t need to be so close minded as to identify herself as only one or the other. I definitely agree though that the messages are very unclear for the vast majority of the book, and it’s super unrealistic how Charlie couldn’t find any athletic female friends who don’t wear makeup! Heck, half of my friends don’t wear makeup and I couldn’t care less. Hahaha.

    Nice review! ❤

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I have never heard of this author, but I can say I’m about 99% sure this book would have ticked me off as well. Especially being a Mother to four daughters. My daughters have been taught you change for NO ONE.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Ahhh, I completely agree with you on this one. I love almost all books by Kasie West but this one pushed me to my breaking point. Fantastic review, love how you have shown everything wrong with the book cause there surely was a lot of it.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I didn’t read your review because I haven’t read this one yet and it is sadly on my TBR. I am not a fan of Kasie West at all. The last few books of hers that I’ve read were garbage. I just want to read them because I spent money on them 😦

    Liked by 1 person

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