review: sophomore switch

3 02 2009

As I said in my last book posting, I was chosen to review a book as part of LibraryThing’s Early Reviewers program.  I’ve requested several books in the past, but this was my first time being selected.

When I read the blurb about the book, I almost didn’t request it.  I haven’t being reading many books in the genre, but I thought it might be a fun read, and it certainly was.

The novel focuses on different very different female protagonists who exchange places at their respective universities for a semester (Oxford for the University of Santa Barbara).  One – Tasha – is escaping an unfortunate hot tub debacle with a teen idol, which has been broadcast all over the internet, while Em is a much more conservative, super-organized, but whose relationship problems have also made her eager to escape Oxford for a term.  It took me some time to warm to both characters as they seemed so stereotypical, but I think that one of the things I enjoyed most about the book was the way in which McDonald used some conventions of this genre, but also subverted some of the most expected ones.  Both girls, for example, start as fish-out-of-water at their new universities, and they begin to change to fit in with their surroundings (using advice for the other ones), and while this concept has been done before, I’ve usually seen it involve the character losing their real self when putting on this new persona.  In this novel, that isn’t really the case.  Instead of losing themselves, each character finds a different part of themselves and they reach a deeper understanding of who they are. I also found that Tasha’s story took a much different turn than I expected, but one that seemed more realistic, and which again stressed the importance of knowing yourself.

I found the ending itself a bit too rushed, but I did enjoy it much more than I anticipated and I would certainly keep an eye out for anything McDonald writes in the future.




3 responses

3 02 2009
Abby McDonald

Hi, I’m glad you enjoyed the book! But who is this mysterious Johnson person taking credit for all my work…? 🙂

3 02 2009

Hi Abby,

I have no idea where that came from, though I must admit that my brain has been a wee bit frazzled with all my mid-term marking. All fixed and corrected now 🙂

I meant to include in my review a bit about how well I thought you handled the academic politics at Oxford and the way in which personal beliefs and theories can come in the way of teaching. It was very similar to my own experiences with some professors and I really liked the way that you handled that.

4 02 2009
What are some good potential jobs for Philosophy majors? |

[…] review: sophomore switch « still waters […]

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