Apr 19

Review: Exchanging Lives by Kathy Buchanan

I received this book for free from ARC received from publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review: Exchanging Lives by Kathy BuchananExchanging Lives by Kathy Buchanan
Published by Scholastic Australia on 2009
Genres: fiction, middle fiction
Pages: 188
Source: ARC received from publisher
Buy on Amazon

Annie and Charlie may be former bffs, but they couldn't be more different. So when they both go on exchange to America, they have very different trips planned. Fashion-obsessed Annie is heading for the bright lights of New York City, while Charlie is dreaming of farm life in Ohio. But when their parents pull a switch, Annie ends up wearing suede stilettos in a cow field while Charlie tries to get along with the Queen Bees at an exclusive New York girls' school. Both girls are challenged by their new lives, but over three months they discover things they never imagined about themselves, their world, and each other.

After reading some more serious literature of late, I enjoyed the distraction of this fun “fish out of water” tween novel by Australian journalist and author Kathy Buchanan.

Fashion Diva Annie and Eco-Warrior Charlie are chosen to represent their Sydney school on a Year 8 exchange student program. Each girl gets to spend 3 months in the US, Annie in New York and Charlie on a farm in rural Ohio.

The girls were BFFs through primary school and into Year 7 but have now drifted apart. Encouraged by the catty and controlling Maddie, Annie has allowed herself to be pressured into embarrassing Charlie in front of other students. She feels bad about this, but gives in to Maddie’s demands in order to remain in the popular group.

When Annie and Charlie reach the airport, they are surprised when their mothers tell them that their destinations have been swapped. Annie is horrified at the thought of spending three months in Hicksville and Charlie shudders at the thought of being forced to live in a superficial glamour city.

Forced to step out from behind the safety of what is familiar, both girls are forced to consider the importance of real friendship and being willing to step outside their comfort zones.

Annie and Charlie are likeable characters and their experiences are both interesting and amusing. The storyline is somewhat predictable, however this is balanced by a quick flowing story, alternating narrative perspective (between Charlie and Annie) and interesting locations. Exchanging Lives is the first in a series of youth novels by Buchanan.

Exchanging Lives is well written, fun, light-hearted and enjoyable. I’m looking forward to seeing how Buchanan develops the series with the second book, Roman Holiday.

Suitable for readers aged 10+ years.

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