By Megan Shull
Middle grade fantasy/contemporary setting
Katharine Tegen Books
life doesn't look that great to her, especially when her best friend
has a new best friend and they both ridicule her. What Ellie doesn't
know is that to Jack, Ellie looks like someone who has her act together.
She doesn't know the guy who looks like an in-control, popular athlete
is the youngest of four brothers with a widowed father who has turned
drill sergeant to keep his boys in line. He doesn't know she and her
mother have been struggling to appear that everything is just fine since
her dad left.
As school starts, when they both end up seeing the
school nurse, they discover far more about each other from the inside
out than either of them ever dreamed possible in Megan Shull's witty,
wise and wonderful The Swap. Whoever that new school nurse is, she was
able to switch things up so that Ellie is inside Jack's body and Jack is
The pair quickly agree to a plan that they will
have a quiet weekend and try to get back to that school nurse as soon as
possible. The plan, of course, goes awry because of their families and
friends. But this is where Shull pulls off the fun with wisdom just
underneath. Jack, as Ellie, is pampered by a mom who loves to spoil her
only child. He could even get used to this spa treatment stuff. Ellie,
as Jack, glories in being in with a bunch of roughneck brothers. Jack
and Ellie may be in each others' bodies, but they are still themselves.
able to see how each other lives, Ellie and Jack also are able to take
charge about the things that hurt each other the most -- Ellie's ex-best
friend and Jack's distant father. As each other and acting together,
they are able to accomplish things they never would have been able to do
on their own. And, as they learn about the reality of each others'
lives, they are not afraid to be themselves.
As these are tweens,
the onset of adolescence from the other gender's point of view is
handled with great humor and no vulgarity. This is one of the highlights
of Shull's strategy of telling the story in each of their points of
view in alternating chapters.
Although the ending at first felt a
little too good to be true, it is actually far better than it might
have been. Saying more would constitute spoilers, but let's just say
sometimes, characters not only get what they deserve, they get an ending
that is great for everyone.
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