My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Having read the preceding book in the ‘By a Kiss’ series and absolutely adoring it, I jumped to purchase this when I found there was another book set in the same world, with the focus on one of the other characters in the original book.
*DISCLAIMER: You do not have to read ‘prequel’ Split by a Kiss to understand Swapped by a Kiss, though I highly recommend reading it*
Following the events of the previous book, Rachel is finally in a relationship (though somewhat on/off) with boyfriend and long-term best friend David. Coming to the end of high school, the future is finally looking bright (not too bright; she’s ‘gothically-inclined’) for her, after a difficult and strained relationship with her mum and her dad (view spoiler)
However, just before David is set to leave for an English music festival on his summer vacation, Rachel gets so jealous of David’s flirtatious tendencies with girls – namely Jo, protagonist of the previous book, as she was said to have bonded with David as they were both Brits in America – whilst they are in a relationship. At the same time, Jo is in a seemly perfect relationship with boyfriend Albie, lead singer in local band ‘The Madison Rats’. She feels pushed over the edge by him teasing that if he was an elementalist (controlling weather and the elements), she would be a mentalist (code word for crazy). To Rachel, with quite apparent psychological trauma stemming back to her unhappy childhood, this is a punch in the gut. So, she breaks up with him in the middle of the school cafeteria.
But yet again, Rachel was in for another surprise – she hadn’t thought this break up was any different to any others, where they break up and then get pulled back together by ‘a powerful electromagnetic force than neither of us could ever resist’. But before they had the chance to reconcile, David left for England, leaving Rachel feeling rather sad and heart broken. Enter Tori: Jo’s best friend (and also Albie’s younger sister) during and since the events of the previous book. Her whole family is planning on taking the trip down to the festival, as it is the first major gig for the’Madison Rats’ and their international premiere. Sadly, after Albie has flown out ahead of the rest of the family, Tori’s mum badly twists her ankle and is no longer able to go. Furthermore, Tori’s father feels it is his duty to look after his wife. So, Tori can’t go…
…or can she? Tori is mad that she is only allowed to go with an adult, since she is only 6 months younger than Albie himself (he’s her adoptive brother) who was able to leave by himself. Tori comes up with a plan to try and reassure her parents by taking along someone they know. She decides to go against travelling with her ‘practically-ex’ boyfriend Topher, and opts for Rachel instead, although they aren’t strictly friends, and are only connected through Jo. Rachel thinks Tori is a ‘total-airhead’ but still agrees, hoping to surprise David upon her arrival and that they would get back together.
When they arrive, Rachel hunts down David’s tent, only to discover that David is kissing another girl. And not just any girl – it’s JO. Before David and Jo discover Rachel stood there, Rachel runs off to some ruins found near the festival site and makes a crazy wish – to become Jo. And then all of a sudden, she is…
‘And if she discovers that being in someone else’s shoes isn’t all it’s cracked up to be, can she ever be herself again?’
Read the book to find out about how Rachel gets to grips being in Jo’s body, and Jo being in her’s. A lesson about being jealous of other people, and also that what seems to be perfect on the outside can be a total mess on the inside.
It was really good to get inside the body of Rachel, to see what was causing all of the emotional hurt that is so obviously expressed in her personality. I also liked how Rachel and Jo learnt from each other than neither of the other’s relationships were as perfect as they seemed. Jo thought David and Rachel were a fiery couple, full of passion and romance, but that also led to the occasional break-up. Rachel thought Jo had perfect everything, clothes, hair and the perfect ‘rock-god’ boyfriend Albie. (view spoiler)
Overall, I give this book five stars because it is just that perfect balance between comedy, romance, music, family relationships and more. A must read for fans of the ‘Princess Diaries and other Meg Cabot works’.