Two girls on opposite sides of the globe both want a quick getaway. The answer? They switch places through a last minute global exchange program. The catch? It’s a direct swap. They swap classes, accommodation and universities. No exceptions. Feminist political theory for film studies. On-camps accommodation for an share-apartment. A university where attendance is expected to one that doesn’t take a roll.
Tasha’s life seems to be coming to pieces. After the disastrous ‘hot-tub incident’, Tasha’s parents wont even talk to her. She can’t go anywhere without being recognised – for all the wrong reasons. She’s desperate to get out. To go anywhere. Emily thought she was on-track. Every aspect planned until she is dumped by her boyfriend for being too studious and up-tight. Every step of her life has been because it is the right decision for the future. The future that her parents what for her. Until now.
Tasha winds up in Oxford, England. Not something you would expect of a typical beach going, class-skipping and all round party girl from America. Finding herself wadding Ugg-deep in feminist theory, Tasha just wants people to see her for who she really is. Not who they all think she is. Yet when the whole university seems out to get her for her rather different views on feminism, blending in seems to be an impossible feat. Emily heads to the University of California, Santa Barbara. Suddenly she is in a world that is the opposite of organisation, planning and preparation. From a class size of three to a lecture hall of 200, Emily is in for a semester of film critiquing, script re-writing and filming. However, her ‘English’ image of perfection and organisation seems to be alienating the rest of the student body against her.
Before long, the two girls make contact from opposite sides of the globe, each offering the other tips and strategies on how to fit in, navigate the difficulty of love and figuring out who they really want to be. Can Tasha and Emily help each other before they each make the best or worst mistake of their lives?
First off, I loved this book. It was extremely well-written and captivating from the first page until the end. Life Swap is debut novel from Abby McDonald, who is a recent graduate of Oxford University providing an excellent platform to satire the collage experience. McDonald’s spin on what could have potentially be seen as stereotypical characters gave a fresh new insight into the way different cultures work and operate against each other. The language choices are fresh and real – McDonald knows how to talk in the language of a teenager, and it transfers into the truth and reality conveyed in Life Swap. With interesting plot developments for both characters and an equal division of both characters story, McDonald manages to create two diverse universe’s that operate in sync with each other. For me, the characters where real people that I could relate to.
I saw a reflection of myself in both Tasha and Emily’s actions, and were able to relate to the choices and situations that both characters found themselves in. From Tasha trying to re-gain some sense of pride and belief in herself after a past mistake that the world wouldn’t forget, to Emily trying to let loose and relinquish her almost obsessive-compulsive to have everything this in her life organised. Emily’s defiance of her parents in the face of, for once, choosing to do what she wants and the events that influence this decision was an interesting look for me, and I feel that many young adults who read this book will relate to it in the same way.
Life Swap was a joy of an adventure that had you laughing, crying and cringing with every decision made.