Book Review: In My Shoes
I have always been drawn to body swap fiction. But just switching bodies isn’t enough for me. No, my ultimate attraction is when the body swap is combined with a gender swap. Boy in a girl’s body, girl in a boy’s body. The disorientation of not being the person you see in the mirror, coupled with having to learn how the other half of the population lives, is something that has always fascinated me. That’s why the self-published young adult novel “In My Shoes” by Adrian Stephens caught my eye. I asked the author if I could read and review it, so here we go!
First off, I had to get back into the mindset of young adult fiction. I’ve been out of the market for a while, but once I realigned my reading towards the genre, I found the novel interesting. It’s the typical plot of “they don’t understand each other, so now they’ll learn how to really understand each other.” Jake liked Nicole, but she wouldn’t give him the time of day. Little did they know that they’d soon learn more about one another than they ever expected. In the night, they switch bodies, and wake up to the surprising results. We get the routine plot points of how a boy learns to deal with a girl’s daily routine, how much easier it is for a girl to go through a boy’s routine, and how different their demeanor seems to the outside world. It’s all well-expected in a book such as this. However, I felt like there were many things missing from the explanation aspect of the novel.
The characters are around 17-18 years of age, but the dialogue and apparent obliviousness of their actions make it seem like they were much younger. I think the plot could have potentially worked better if their ages had been set back a few years. It would have made more sense to me in how they were acting. What’s more frustrating to me was the lack of explanation on why this happened. They switched bodies, yet I could never find a clear indication of why that happened. Jake and Nicole don’t seem that intent on finding the reason, either, since they never sought it out and instead waited around in hopes that it would sort itself out each night they went to sleep.
What was most lacking for me was the real exploration of being in the body of the opposite sex. Yes, we had multiple mentions of Nicole getting aroused at inopportune moments and we got the expected “Jake gets his period” scene, but everything was taken as routine and I would have liked to have seen it delved into deeper. These are teenagers who are already struggling with their identity and then their genders get switched, yet there wasn’t much exploration of feeling like they didn’t belong or questioning sexualities or any of the aspects I’ve come to expect in the gender swap genre.
The book as a whole was a good first attempt by an author finding their way in the writing marketplace. If you’re interested in gender swap fiction, I’d give this a look. Just be aware of the plot-lines that could have gone further, but were held back. And also be aware that, in my opinion, the book would have been stronger had the last chapter not been included because it time-jumped, but didn’t feel necessary. I would be interested in seeing how the author’s talent gets refined after multiple novels as I can see potential in the rough draft. Writing is a craft and we get stronger with each attempt.
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