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Saturday, October 25, 2014

The Swap by Megan Shull

Title: The Swap
Author: Megan Shull
ISBN: 97800623311696
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books
Released: August 26, 2014
Page #: 382
Source: ARC from the publisher

"Ellie spent the summer before seventh grade getting dropped by her best friend since forever. Jack spent it training in The Cage with his tough-as-nails brothers and hard-to-please dad. By the time middle school starts, they're both ready for a change. And just as Jack's thinking girls have it so easy, Ellie's wishing she could be anyone but herself. Then, BAM! They swap lives - and bodies!

Now Jack is braving sleepover parties, while Ellie reigns as The PRince of Thatcher Middle School. As their crazy weekend races on - and their feelings for each other grow - Ellie and Jack begin to realize that maybe the best way to learn how to be yourself is to spend a little time being someone else.

Told in alternating perspectives, The Swap offers fresh and funny insights into how the other half really lives. "
First Lines: (Quote from the galley, see final version for edits)

"It's sunny and it's summer and the three of us are sitting on the scratchy cement edge of the Riverside Swim Club pool, dangling our feet into the deep end.
Page 1

This was most definitely one of my favorite middle grade books I've read in a while.

Ellie and Jack are both in a tough spot at the beginning of school. They're unhappy about some big aspect of their lives and don't know how to change it. One witchy nurse changes all that - and puts them in each other's bodies. Each of them has a lot to learn about how differently they live... and it changes how they see their own lives.

I'm not sure how much of a review I can write about this book because I really loved it. I mean, the whole switching bodies thing is done really well. The things you wonder about are discussed easily. The whole bathroom issue, the morning situation for boys... it's all in there. And I feel like it's handled really well - and glossed over without it becoming too much of an issue.

I know some have complaints about the gender stereotypes, but I feel like it was fine. I mean, I can easily imagine these kids at any middle school, anywhere. Just because she plays for a soccer team that wears all pink and he has brothers who are so aggressive and tough, doesn't keep me from buying into the story completely. I love that the mean girl got called out so effectively and that both characters were able to help each other so much.

Now that I mention it, the whole sports and fitness thing was a really fun part of the story. The fact that both of them are very into team sports helped them understand each other even more. Their family lives are so different that you almost can't even understand how they could comprehend each other's struggles, but it works out really well.

The ending of this story almost left me in tears. There's a moment with Jack's father that really did make me tear up and I think it will have that effect on many readers. And I just loved how things wrapped up in a pretty package. I honestly don't think I could have asked for more from a middle grade book. I almost wish there were going to be more books about these characters because I loved them so much.

As you can imagine, I will be recommending this book to all of my upper middle grade readers. I think the whole physical differences discussions sort of push it outside of the early middle range... so this is almost more for the kid who is asking questions about body changes - mostly because it actually talks through some of it and might be a helpful tool. Either way, it's a great book and well written. I look forward to reading more from this author.
Other Blog Review: 

Little Book Star
Sarah Reads Too Much
Between the Pages
Book Loving Me
Gizmo's Book Reviews
Lisa Loves Literature
Paper Riot
Pingwing's Bookshelf
Those Summer Reading Nights
Gisbelle's YA Obsession

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