First Lines: I was switched at birth. Ok, not really. I just like saying that. I like how it sounds, how it makes me smile, and how it irritates my mother, who pretends with a laugh to find it amusing.
This was on my to-read list for a few years, and I always wanted to read it. It sounded cute and fresh and…well, a heck of a lot lighter than all the Holocaust books I’ve been reading lately.
Eighteen-year-old Bronwen must have been switched at birth. It’s the only way to explain how she’s nothing like her mother, her brother’s small personality complex, and her stepfather’s distance. Because if Bronwen belongs to another family (a family she has named the Lilywhites), then Bronwen will be ok. Then she meets Jared Sondervan. He’s sweet, cute, and has the family Bronwen has always wanted. She falls in love and when he proposes marriage, she accepts. But is she really what Jared needs? If not, what should she do? What would a Lilywhite do?
I thought the plot of this sounded super unique. There aren’t many books I’ve come across that deal with high school engagements. Bronwen is still a senior when she gets engaged. But the whole tone of the story felt unique in some way. Maybe it partly had to do with Bronwen’s obsession that she was switched at birth, or it was just her voice. I can’t tell. Still, it felt different even though it dealt with the usual themes of family, acceptance, and following your heart.
What was most surprising was how spot-on this was in representing a first love. It had every step of it, from the overwhelming happiness to the surety that this would last forever to the slowly nagging doubts that maybe this isn’t happily ever after after all. I loved that. A lot of books do the break-up and the hopeless pining, but this was different. Bronwen is trying to do what’s best for herself and for Jared, which may or may not end with a happy ending (I’m not telling!). It’s like life in that there is no guarantee that things are going to work out in the end. I enjoyed the story’s honesty in that respect.
But I didn’t necessarily like Bronwen. As a character in this story, she was just fine. She fit in with the other weird characters in her family. She’s just so sure that she isn’t part of her family that she doesn’t even try anymore. That frustrated me because I am such a family-oriented person. I didn’t know what to think of her for a long time.
I did love the character quirks, though, in all the characters. Oh my gosh. I swear a couple of times that the author must have spied on my family and just changed our names. I love quirky families. There was never a dull moment.
It was an interesting story, especially for a debut novel. While it had a few rough patches, it was cute and hit on less talked-about subjects.