By Martyn Bedford
Kindle book description:
“One December night, 14-year-old Alex goes to bed. He wakes up to find himself in the wrong bedroom, in an unfamiliar house, in a different part of the country, and it’s the middle of June. Six months have disappeared overnight. The family at the breakfast table are total strangers.
And when he looks in the mirror, another boy’s face stares back at him. A boy named Flip. Unless Alex finds out what’s happened and how to get back to his own life, he may be trapped forever inside a body that belongs to someone else. Questions of identity, the will to survive, and what you’re willing to sacrifice to be alive make this extraordinary book impossible to put down.”
Oh, oh, I couldn’t wait to review this book! I actually started reviewing it when I was half-way through because I wanted to talk about it. This is one of those books that makes you invent reasons to be alone so you can read. I took a bath so I could read this book. I never take baths. Some books end up all wrinkled and “puffed out” – a bathtub book – from being dropped in the bathtub or the sink or in a puddle in the street from reading while walking. When you see a book like that on a friend’s shelf, grab it – it’s bound to be good. This, folks, is a bathtub book.
My son actually picked it out, and I wouldn’t read it until he promised me it had a good ending. I was worried that it would be too sad. The great thing about this book is that it makes you think about what you value in your life. If you woke up in a better body – stronger, faster, bigger, more mature, better looking – would you want to stay? When Alex and Flip switch bodies, Alex finds himself in exactly that situation. He’s a star athlete, all the guys want to be his friend, and he has not one but two girlfriends, both hot, popular girls he never had a chance with before. His new “family” has more money. And his new “mom” is even a better cook than his real mom. He starts building a pretty good relationship with his new “sister,” who apparently couldn’t stand Flip. It’s a good life.
But he’s miserable. He misses his parents. He misses his best friend. He misses his clarinet. He even misses his little brother. He’s attracted to a girl who is not popular, a cello-playing nobody he can really talk to. He’s an unpopular geek trapped in a popular kid’s body, and all he wants is to go home. He realizes that being himself is more important than being popular. We all say, “Oh, if I were only her/him, my life would be perfect, and I would be happy forever.” The author makes you evaluate, what about your life would you miss if you were put in Alex’ position? What do you like about yourself?
The way Alex misses his family is well written; his anguish is gut-wrenching, and it feels real. And the pacing is good – the desperation Alex feels as time is running out keeps you flying through the pages. Not a lot happens, really, but the book doesn’t drag. This book isn’t about what happens, anyway; it’s about what’s important in any given person’s life. I loved it. (And my son was right – the ending was great.) BTW, the book’s setting is England, so there’s the added element of learning what a kid’s life in another country is like. Some of the phrases the characters say give you a grin or two.
Would I recommend this book? Absolutely.