Review: The Holiday Switch by Tif Marcelo
Title: Fake It Till You Break It
Author: Jenn P. Nguyen
Genre: YA Romance
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Lila Castro is ready to take on her last winter break of high school. The snow is plentiful, the mood is full of holiday cheer, and she’s earning extra cash working at the cozy local inn. But her perfect holiday plans crash to a halt when her boss’s frustratingly cute nephew, Teddy Veracruz, becomes her coworker. When they accidentally switch phones one afternoon, they both realize they’ve been hiding things from each other. Will their secrets–and a dash of holiday spirit–bring them closer to love?
Welcome to Holly, New York—population 14,533—where the Christmas spirit never goes out of fashion. For the people of this town, being christmassy is, literally, a way of life. From the perennially mounted decorative lights, to the businesses’ names—That’s A Wrap, a gift wrap and stationary store; A restaurant named Scrooge’s Shack; and Yule be baking, a pastry shop—and the ingrained Christmas puns, Holly is a downright festive town.
I haven’t lived in many small towns, and, in my experience, the christmas cheer is decidedly missing when the day finally rolls by. This author says that, in many ways, the anticipation before the day itself is more thrilling, and I couldn’t agree more. There’s a kind of burnout that settles in when the day finally arrives, and it makes it a very melancholic affair. Frankly, I can’t imagine being stuck in that loop year-round, but different strokes for different people.
Lila, the female protagonist, is a high-school senior currently on break who is working at an inn/store to earn some money before going off to college.
She has a blog where she posts book reviews, but has kept it a secret because, after a bad experience, her parents don’t like the idea of posting things online.
Teddy, the male protagonist, is a college student on break who escapes to Holly—the fictional town—to enter a climbing tournament.
There’s a bit of a tussle between them because Lila’s employer is Teddy’s aunt and Teddy is given the extra work hours she thought she would be getting.
So, there’s a little rivalry especially with the both having completely different personalities but it eventually smoothens out.
I appreciate how family was portrayed in the book—with all its messiness. There’s something comforting about sameness and reading about a seemingly “chaotic” family finding their way to each other over and over again is magical. It’s not everyday we get a book with not one, but two Filipino leads and I love how the picture the author painted.
Although I found the conversation between the male and female protagonist exceedingly banal and “trying” at best, I could relate to a lot of their struggles: being unable to say what you really want because of fear of backlash, keeping secrets from parents, and being generally undecided about the future. I didn’t have a particularly close relationship with my parents at that age, so it’s very relatable, and if I were in their shoes, I would probably make the same decisions.
I have no complaints as to the prose. It was while reading this that I discovered this was a YA debut and the author had written other books but in different genres, if it is written even half as succinctly as this, I’m definitely going to give it a read.
The book cover was illustrated by Jacqueline Li, and if there’s one thing we know, she always delivers. If you’re active on Twitter, then you might have seen the cover reveal tweet that was posted some time ago. It was the cover reveal of My Mechanical Romance by Alexene Farol Follmouth, and that was also illustrated by Jacqueline.
Here’s a postcard she illustrated for The Holiday Switch
Inasmuch as this was a cutesy read and despite the overall festive atmosphere, I didn’t like some things in the book. I know that puppy love is supposed to be cute and cheesy and full of mistakes, but there are some things I can’t overlook.
For one, there’s the little issue of the Teddy initially threatening to reveal her secret if she doesn’t keep his. This was glossed over with an apology the next day, but I gave him the side eye for a better part of the book. And, as Saniya points out in her review, you can’t excuse the fact that Lila, the female protagonist and high-schooler, was being threatened by Teddy, the male protagonist and college student.
Pros: Lots of Christmas puns.
Cons: Rather staple characters.
Recommended for: people looking for palate cleansers.