Friday, January 22, 2016

Book Review: Switch

It must be so difficult to write a sequel book. Once you've hit the big-time, readers are bound to come at every following book with great expectations. Ingrid Law hit the mark with her first book, Savvy, a book I reviewed back in 2009 with great enthusiasm (truly a masterpiece). When I chanced upon the second book, Scumble, in the library, I felt sad that it didn't quite live up to the greatness of the first book. It was still a good book, just not as magnificent as the first. Now, I feel the same way about the third book, Switch. I'm deeply committed to the characters (the strange Beaumont family) and their unique traits (when they turn 13 they receive a savvy, a special magical ability), but the story wasn't quite as stunning and note-worthy as the introductory book, Savvy.

In Switch, we meet Gypsy Beaumont, who has recently gained a savvy she seems unable to control - the ability to see into the past and the future. I'm still not quite sure what happened to cause the switch, but somehow everyone's savvy gets turned topsy-turvy when Grandma Pat is slated to come live with the Beaumont family. This is devastating news, as Grandma Pat has always been so opposed to the magical nature of her son's acquired family. However, because of her recent decline due to "Old-Timer's disease," it is necessary for the Beaumont family to go retrieve her and take her under their wing. Gypsy sees a vision of Grandma Pat's future and embarks on a desperate journey to save her from a frightening fate. She takes her brothers Samson and Tucker, and also the neighbor girl, Nola, along for the ride.

There are many great attributes to this book. It approaches the subject of kids living with the fallout of mental illness (dementia and Alzheimer's) in an understanding and instructive way. The characters are colorful and unique. The pacing is good. And, once again, the author reminds kids that everyone has unique abilities and can shine. It is a very affirming book and provides valuable lessons for children and tweens.

If you have a child who is dealing with the changes, in a loved one, brought on by dementia, then this is an outstanding choice of reading material. If you are looking for a book that delves into magical territory in a positive manner (without witches and wizards and demonic associations), you cannot go wrong with Law's books. Even though I didn't care for Switch as strongly as for Savvy, I will certainly be on the lookout for a fourth book (my prediction is that it will be called Shrink because Gypsy prophesies an image of her youngest brother, Tucker, shrinking as his savvy takes hold on his 13th birthday). The story germ is a good one, ripe with possibilities, and Ingrid Law has the writing chops to take on just such a challenge. Hopefully, she'll knock another one out of the park with quote-worthy blurbs and well-turned phrases, as she did in Savvy.


Kate Unger said...

The premise of the series sounds really cute. I'm sorry books 2 and 3 didn't live up to the first one. That's how I felt about the second Princess in Black. The third one comes out next month, and I'm hoping it redeems the series a little bit in my eyes.

Wendy said...

Even if you don't continue the series, I highly recommend reading Savvy - a Newbery winner and with good cause. Never heard of Princess in Black series, but tend to not go for princess books (the exception being The Selection series - I enjoyed that).

Catherine said...

I'm glad to hear of this series--my kids are super into the whole magic/fantasy genre and it's hard to know which ones to let them read without them getting into really dark stuff. Thanks for the review!

Wendy said...

Yes, Catherine - you'll find magic without a bit of darkness. Plus, I so love her affirming message that every individual has something unique to offer the world.