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  • Gaili Schoen

The Switch



'"Hi Mum," I say.

"Leena, hi!"

I wince. She's all breezy and faux casual, like she's practiced the greeting before making the call...."


"I can see two versions of my mother at once....There's this one, frenetic, fragile, on the edge of breaking.... And the other, the mother who raised me, a whirlwind of honey-streaked hair and big ideas. Impulsive and bright and unstoppable, and always, always in my corner."'


Leena and her 79-year-old grandmother Eileen both have seemingly insurmountable trouble in their lives. When Leena is ordered to take a two month leave-of-absence from her job, she comes up with the idea of having them switch places: Eileen will live in London and try some online dating, and Leena will live in Yorkshire and help her depressed mother Marian with errands, as well as taking care of Eileen's town business. In the process, they are both able to call upon long-buried aspects of their personalities, and give them a run in the sun. By the time they have to switch back, they have both learned a great deal about themselves and about the people around them; both of their lives are gradually transformed into something they didn't even know they wanted.


I enjoyed this book about life and death and aging in England. I would have liked more character development for the men in the story: Ethan, Jackson and Arnold, but perhaps the author Bet O'Leary felt that it was important to keep the focus on the three generations of women: Eileen, Marian and Leena. This was a fun last read of 2020. The story kept me both laughing and commiserating, and I liked both Eileen and Leena with their take-charge attitudes that helped others to learn and act.


'"Never been one for worst-case scenarios,” Jackson says. He crouches to dip his roller in the tray; his wrists are flecked with paint now, new, brighter freckles. “When they happen, you cope. And it’s usually one you’ve not thought of that gets you, so why worry?”'


Paperback 336 pages, Audiobook 10 hours 11 minutes ⭐⭐⭐/5 on GoodReads; check out our RipeReads Group!


What were some of your favorite books of 2020? What are you reading now? I love hearing about new books! Please leave a comment!


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