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Book Review

Body Swap by Sylvia McNicoll

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Publication date: 09 Oct 2018

I think that Sylvia McNicoll and Dundurn are selling themselves short: This is not just a YA Middle School novel. While it's appropriate for middle schoolers (i.e., no cursing), I'm sure it would be appealing to high schoolers and adults, too. It reminded me of a seamless mash-up of the stories behind Cocoon, Big, and Lovely Bones (the book, not the movie). Magical realism at its best.

At first I was confused by both the swapping of bodies and the alternating chapters. It took me a while to make the mental switches back-and-forth while I read. I do wonder if some readers will find the double switching confusing. I thought that might detract from my enjoyment of the story, but I got used to the seesawing.  I'm glad I did.

The characters were believable and played both of their parts really well. Their duality offered the introspection we often can only assume occurs within characters; McNicoll allowed the reader inside of the characters' heads, which allowed the readers to contemplate what their own reactions might have been under similar circumstances. This provided a very powerful way to get absorbed into a story.

McNicoll provided a means of exploring one's own preconceived notions (in this case about ageism) without being preachy, which is hugely important for our YA readers. I'm looking forward to getting Body Swap for my high school library and will recommend it for my middle school library, as well. 

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