I requested this from NetGalley so long ago that when I finally decided to read it I couldn’t even remember what it was about. Luckily for me I have good taste in books so it ended up being a winner! I received this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for my honest thoughts.
Ezra Slevin is an anxious, neurotic insomniac who spends his nights questioning his place in the universe and his days obsessing over Imogen, a nerdy girl with gigantic eyebrows and a heart of gold.
For weeks, Ezra has been working up the courage to invite Imogen to prom. The only problem is Imogen’s protective best friend, Wynonna Jones. Wynonna has blue hair, jams to ’80s rock, and has made a career out of tormenting Ezra for as long as he can remember.
Then, on the night of a total solar eclipse, something strange happens to Ezra and Wynonna–and they wake up in each other’s bodies. Not only that, they begin randomly swapping back and forth every day! Ezra soon discovers Wynonna’s huge crush on his best friend, Holden, a five-foot-nothing girl magnet with anger management problems. With no end to their curse in sight, Ezra makes Wynonna a proposition: while swapping bodies, he will help her win Holden’s heart…but only if she helps him woo Imogen.
Forming an uneasy alliance, Ezra and Wynonna embark on a collision course of mistaken identity, hurt feelings, embarrassing bodily functions, and a positively byzantine production of Twelfth Night. Ezra wishes he could be more like Wynonna’s badass version of Ezra–but he also realizes he feels more like himself while being Wynonna than he has in a long time…
Wildly entertaining and deeply heartfelt, Where I End and You Begin is a brilliant, unapologetic exploration of what it means to be your best self.
I’m honestly surprised by how much I liked this book. It’s quirky, covers a lot of serious topics in an easily-digestible way, and is really unique.
Before you say anything, I know the idea of body swapping isn’t unique. The book itself mentions She’s The Man and Freaky Friday but trust me, this idea is covered in an original way.
Now, this book is so funny and quirky! There’s a lot of banter between the characters and you can tell they’ve known each other for a very long time. The characters each have their own quirky behaviors and hobbies, like Wynonna’s love for Pat Benatar and Ezra’s YouTube channel. The body swapping is funny by itself but the thoughts Ezra and Wynonna have regarding the swaps are really comical.
A good portion of the book involves comedy and the characters getting themselves into funny situations. However, there are also a lot of serious topics explored in the book like gender identity and sexuality, grief and forgiveness, depression, sexual harassment, and family issues. Although I can’t relate to all of these topics personally, I think the author did a great job writing about them. All of these conflicts were woven into the body swapping plot so nicely and really helped make the book well-rounded and, as body swapping stories go, accessible and relatable to a lot of readers.
The exploration of gender identity and sexuality was particularly interesting to me. This is one of the topics that I don’t personally relate to but think was well-written. I loved that the characters weren’t defined by a specific label and that was so clearly the author’s intent. The most important part of the story isn’t whether Character X likes boys or girls but how Character X relates to other characters and how this relationship influences his/her life. The body swapping in this context was interesting because of how Ezra felt in Wynonna’s body. He says he doesn’t feel comfortable putting a label on himself, but he feels beautiful in a dress and makeup. The bottom line to Ezra isn’t that he likes dressing both as a boy and a girl but that he is learning to accept himself for what he is rather than what he isn’t and that he should do what makes him happy.
I think staying true to yourself and doing what makes you happy are important ideas to have in YA novels, and Preston Norton does a great job of proving this in different contexts. For Wynonna, this means coming to terms with her family and learning to communicate her emotions with those who matter most to her.
The family components in this book are really great. Ezra’s parent’s don’t have a healthy relationship, Ezra and his sister no longer speak, and Wynonna doesn’t trust her family. Again, the body swapping plays a vital role in exploring these relationships and developing both characters.
I don’t want to ruin the book by going into any more detail because the journey is really the best part of this book. I highly recommend reading Where I End & You Begin!