Seventeen-year-old Bronwen Oliver doesn’t just want a family. She has one of those, and there’s nothing terribly wrong with them apart from bickering grandparents, an image-obsessed mother and a brother she describes simply as Jesus. But there’s no natural sense of connection between Bronwen and her family, leaving her with the belief — and the hope — that she was switched at birth, that she was never supposed to be Bronwen Oliver but someone else entirely.
When she begins dating college senior Jared Sondervan, she finds herself thoroughly embraced by the loving family she has always wanted and does not hesitate to say yes when Jared proposes on her 18th birhday. Plans for the Perfect Beach Wedding before her junior year of college become plans for the Perfect Beach Wedding before her freshman year of college. And a wedding so soon isn’t exactly what Bronwen wants. But Jared is. And his family is. Or so she thinks.
Before Bronwen can determine what she truly wants, she must first determine who she truly is, and the answer, she discovers, is only partially what she thought it was. She wasn’t switched at birth, but she’s also not Bronwen Oliver and hasn’t been for a very long time. (synopsis taken from GoodReads)
One of the most important parts of a novel is the writing and Erin McCahan’s writing proves to be hilarious, fast-paced, and honest. Bronwen is a great narrator and one that many will be able to relate to. Ms. McCahan’s descriptions come across clearly and she has captured the way a teenager would view things, so seeing things through Bronwen’s eyes makes for an enjoyable experience. I really liked the dialogue and found it to be witty and formatted in a realistic manner.
At first, I found Bronwen’s belief in having been switched at birth to be a little unbelievable. Sure, teenagers feel like they’re martians 99% of the time and I understood where her belief stemmed from, but I thought she took it a little too seriously sometimes. This opinion, however, changed as her relationship with her family revealed itself. Her issues with her mother come across dramatically, but in a good, honest, believable way. Same goes for Bronwen and her stepfather. The authentic relationships don’t stop with her family, however. I really enjoyed her friendship with Kirsten and found Ms. McCahan’s portrayal of their friendship to ring true to those found in real life.
I also really enjoyed Bronwen’s relationship with Jared. He brought out the best and worst in her, and vice-versa, but he also allowed her to see who she truly was and who she wanted to be. As much as this story is about family, it’s also about knowing yourself and knowing what you really want out of life.
Overall, I really enjoyed this book! I found myself laughing several times and also fighting the urge to shake Bronwen and tell her to open her eyes. I quickly became invested in the characters and their relationships, and found the ending to be very satisfying and believable. If you haven’t read this yet, I encourage you to do so and you can learn more about the book and Erin McCahan at her OFFICIAL WEBSITE.
(cover image taken from Schuler Books’ website)