From Amazon: Take an administrative snafu, a bad break-up, and what shall heretofore be known as The Hot-Tub Incident, and you ve got two thoroughly unprepared sophomores on a semester abroad. For American party girl Tasha, an escape to tweedy Oxford may be a chance to ditch her recent fame as a tabloid temptress. Meanwhile, the British half of the exchange, studious control-freak Emily, nurses an aching heart amid the bikinis and beer pong of U. C. Santa Barbara. Soon desperation has the girls texting each other tips on fitting in, finding love and figuring out who they really are.
Life Swap (published as Sophomore Switch in the US) is a brillantly written look at two very different girls and their eye-opening experiences abroad. Abby McDonald writes in a style that flows easily, and uses instant messaging and e-mails to assist the first person dual narrative.
Tasha, the party-hard American girl, and Emily, a stuffy Brit, couldn't be more opposite if they tried. One is laid back and easygoing, while the other is too organised for her own good. By literally switching lives for three months, they discover hidden sides to their personalities, and learn to go with the flow. I loved how both girls succeeded in their new roles, and how they met new people and studied new subjects. They learnt about themselves, and found that life can easily veer off the planned path of perfect jobs and expected educational opportunities.
Tasha and Emily are older than the average YA characters, and this made Life Swap a very enjoyable read. It's good to see things from an older perspective, and to deal with more mature problems and issues that may not always be present in younger fiction. Although the romantic relationships aren't the main focus of the story, they're all very realistic and believable. It's amazing what a confidence boost and a fresh crowd can do for someone, and this is especially noticeable in Emily's perfectly depicted attraction to film class partner Ryan.
Abby McDonald is an excellent addition to the YA world, and has successfully introduced a generation of teens to feminism and culture. I loved Life Swap, and I can't wait for further books by this author, which I hope will include a sequel featuring the next chapter in Tasha and Emily's highly addictive lives.