by Erin McCahan
First sentence: “I was switched at birth.”
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Bronwen Oliver, age 18, doesn’t know who she is.
Well, she does, to a point. She doesn’t know how she fits into her family She’s heard from her overbearing and inflexible mom for years that she doesn’t know where Bronwen came from. Bronwen’s mom tries to make her fit; taking her to dye her hair is just the least of things. Her stepfather, Whitt, is a slight buffer, but has become more distant in recent. All this gave rise to a hopeful fantasy of Bronwen’s, that she still sometimes holds on to: that she was switched at birth, and really belongs in someone else’s family.
She’s just been dumped by her boyfriend, because she won’t put out on prom night (gotta give the book props: Bronwen has decided to wait until marriage, and sticks to her guns). Then she meets Jared Sondervan, college senior, swoon-worthy male extraordinaire, home for the summer. It’s not quite love at first sight, but pretty darn close. Soon, they’re spending as much time as they can together, kissing passionately, telling secrets about their deepest selves in spite of Bronwen’s tendency to not rock the boat, and creating memories.
And then Jared proposes.
At first, in spite of all the objections, Brownwen is all gung-ho about the idea. The Sondervans are an incredible family. Bronwen loves their son, so what if she’s 18 and he’s 20?
On the one hand, I loved this little book. It was sweet, romantic, lovely and funny. (Then again, I’m from Michigan, so I get the Ohio jokes.) But it’s not all sweet, romantic, lovely fun: there’s a darker side about acceptance within your family and of yourself. Is she wanting to marry Jared because she loves him, or just because she hates her family? McCahan weaves the two sides of the book together practically seamlessly; like Sarah Dessen’s books, the darkness gives the fluff depth and makes it work better.
On the other hand, I really didn’t like the ending. I won’t spoil it for you, but know that I wished it had ended less fairy-tale-like.
But that wasn’t enough to spoil the rest of the book for me.