The short blurb bit: Seventeen-year-old, Xavier is a high school student with a secret. It’s a secret so heavy that Xavier would rather live with the rumors that are spread around that he’s gay than reveal the truth. Natasha is a high school student who is living the good life. She is dating the Captain of the football team (on whom Xavier has a crush), she has great friends and she’s popular.
They both end up a costume party one night. Xavier is persuaded to go by his friend, Janice. They share some tincture and settle in for a good time. Natasha arrives with her boyfriend and meets up with her girlfriends. As sometimes happens, the party gets out of hand. A girl named Adel is almost sexually assaulted, but Xavier and Janice get there just in time to stop it. Meanwhile, AJ’s friend is drunk and needs to be driven home. Natasha gets behind the wheel and hits Adel as she’s running from the party.
Don’t read the next part of this review if you don’t want to spoil the plot of the book!
The descriptive bit: After a long night, Xavier and Natasha both make it home. They both experience a bizarre migraine that knocks them out. Then bam the teens are flipped into alternate universes. They wake up a different gender. Tash is now living her life but physically as Xavier. Xavier wakes up living in Tash’s body.
They both struggle with the way the world sees them versus how they feel inside. How do I walk like a boy? How do popular girls dress? What does being one of the boys mean and why does it matter so much?
They stumble through a day in each others’ lives, unclear whether they’re making things worse or better. But, then they find a way to meet and converse in their dreams.
The strangely intimate experience of swapping genders and living in an alternate version of their lives is eye-opening for both teens. As the swap goes on for days, and the situations around them get more complicated and risky, Xavier lets Tash in on “his truth”: he was born in the wrong body. Xavier is a girl in a male body.
And, so … here are two souls, now with the opportunity to see things from a different perspective. How does it feel to be on the receiving end of bullying? How do in-jokes and teasing feel to someone else? They learn very quickly that perspective is everything.
My thoughts bit: This book touches on no end of questions… What would life be like if I was born in a different body? Do we react to situations or to the expectations people have of us? Do people treat us different because of how we look? If you woke up in a different body would you want to return to your original life? Are there other versions of ourselves out there?
This book is complex in its subtext and depth.
Quoleena Sbrocca is a wordsmith and captured a young generation with a critical and revealing eye. I look forward to reading more of her work!
The warnings bit: mentions attempted sexual assault, some homophobia, bullying, physical violence, mention of a pedestrian hit by a car, car accident, gossiping and rumors
I received an ARC of this book by Quoleena Sbrocca on Goodreads in exchange for an unbiased review.