Party girl Tasha Collins’ world is turned upside down when a compromising video involving her and a television star shows up in the tabloids. After the actor’s girlfriend breaks down on national television, Tasha is vilified by the media as a home wrecker and even her own family will barely speak to her. Unable to deal with the embarrassment of the scandalous video, she is desperate to leave her once carefree Californian college life for the anonymity of Oxford.
Emily Lewis is the polar opposite of Tasha. As straight-laced as they come, her days are mapped out according to study charts, heavy course loads and the guidance of her overbearing father. She wants to get away from Oxford too. Emily craves a change of scenery and some breathing room, but more importantly she is nursing a broken heart. The two girls end up swapping colleges, residences and classes in Sophomore Switch.
Sophomore Switch was a fresh and fast paced tale about two girls broadening their horizons while examining feminist topics, and learning to adapt them to the types of women they were learning to become. The way Tasha and Emily navigated through the ever changing social pressures and societal expectations that young women face today was the most appealing aspect of the book for me. So many times I laughed, cringed and wanted to console them.
Much like Elle Woods in Legally Blonde, most people discounted Tasha’s California good looks for lack of intelligence. Tasha could've easily accepted the less intensive curriculum that Professor Elliot offered, but instead she handled herself in a way that easily made her my favorite character. Though her journey was often filled with missteps, they were fully believable and only endeared her to me more. My favorite moment was when Tasha realized she needed to stop hiding from her past and letting her world be ruled by other people’s preconceived notions of what was right and wrong.
I also enjoyed how Tasha and Emily evolved into being friends despite the fact that they had little in common. Tasha initially emailed Emily more out of sheer lonliness than anything else, yet this proved to be an important catalyst for change. After conversing back and forth, they sent one another "survival switch guides" to help each other acclimate to their new environments. Consequently, a strong friendship began to grow between the two girls, proving that though two people may appear to be extreme opposites in ever way, it is possible to find common ground and form real connections with people that are different than yourself.
Sophomore Switch was a well written, thought provoking novel on so many different levels. It was an engaging read, chocked full of lessons about life, friendship and the application of feminist roles for a new generation of teenage girls.The underlying theme of this book was that not everything in feminist theory is in black and white. A girl can still have fun, AND be serious about equality issues for women. Tasha and Emily proved that.
Twenty-four year old Abby McDonald grew up in Sussex, England and studied Politics, Philosophy & Economics at Oxford University. She began writing at college, becoming music editor of The Oxford Student and completing her first novel. She has since worked as a music journalist and entertainment critic, drawing on her loves of pop culture, film and feminism, and interviewing acts as diverse as LeAnn Rimes, The Kings of Leon, and Marilyn Manson. Her writing has appeared in the NME, Plan B magazine, CosmoGirl!, and a variety of websites and blogs.
In March 2009, her debut novel for teens, Sophomore Switch, was published by Candlewick Press. Find out more at sophomoreswitch.com.
The Popularity Rules is her first novel for adults, and will be published in the UK by Arrow in September 2009.