Sunday, September 6, 2020

Review: THE SWITCH by Beth O'Leary


Rating: 3/5 stars

I loved Beth O’Leary’s The Flatshare, so I was excited to read her sophomore novel, The Switch.

After a panic attack during an important meeting, Leena is forced to take a two-month sabbatical from work to rest and regain her mental composure, but she struggles to let go of her responsibilities. Meanwhile, her grandmother, Eileen, is nearing her eightieth birthday and is looking for new love and some more excitement in her life, but struggling to find any age-appropriate bachelors or new things to do in her very small town. Leena goes to visit her grandmother one day, and they decide that what they need is to swap lives for those two months, letting Leena relax in the countryside and giving Eileen an adventure in London. What ensues is a heartwarming, funny story of second chances, friendships, the meaning of family, and unexpected romances.

Eileen is the coolest grandma ever. I love that we have a POV of an eighty-year-old woman, which is uncommon in literature. I feel like the younger generation subconsciously ostracizes the older generation because we don’t understand them, and they don’t understand us. But this book goes to show that there are a lot more similarities between generations than we realize, and that elderly people are still people—they’re not dead yet—and they are worth getting to know. I love how Leena creates such genuine bonds with all the elderly people in her grandma’s town. She even has a soft spot for cranky Arnold next door. I hope I can be like her someday.

It’s pretty easy to tell early on how the story’s going to end, like who Leena and Eileen are going to end up with, but it was fun to be on the journey with them regardless and see them struggle along the way.

It can be intimidating to step out of our comfort zones, but The Switch shows readers how much we can grow and learn from taking a leap of faith and doing something different and unexpected for once. I loved the morals and lessons this book taught.

This story is less romantic than The Flatshare, even though there’s romance in it. Like in her first novel, Beth O’Leary discusses some difficult topics in this novel too. We have grieving a death in the family, cheating, catfishing, anxiety and panic attacks, and getting out of an abusive relationship. And we also have a strong focus on friendships in the unlikeliest of places, the true meaning of family, and finding a lifelong love.

The Switch was super cute. I’d recommend it to any reader of contemporary literature. I don’t know if I’d say this is contemporary romance since the main plot for both characters was not romance but instead their goals to help their respective communities, but there is definitely a very tender romantic outcome for both of them as well. 

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