Switched by N.R. Walker ~ Book Review by Christine

Title: Switched

Author: N.R. Walker

Publisher: Blue Heart Press

Cover Artist: Sara York

Rating: 3.5 of 5 Stars

Publication Date: 12/25/2016

Length: Novel (~ 50K-100K)

Genre: Contemporary, Gay Romance

Blurb:

Israel Ingham’s life has never been easy. He grew up in a house devoid of love and warmth. Nothing he ever did was good enough. The fact Israel is gay just added to the long list of his father’s disappointments.

Then a letter from Eastport Children’s Hospital changes everything.

A discovery is made, one of gross human error. Twenty-six years ago two baby boys were switched at birth and sent home with the wrong families.

Sam, Israel’s best friend, has been his only source of love and support. With Sam beside him every step of the way, Israel decides to meet his birth mother and her son, the man who lived the life Israel should have.

Israel and Sam become closer than ever, amidst the tumultuous emotions of meeting his birth family, and Sam finds himself questioning his feelings toward his best friend. As Israel embraces new possibilities, he needs to dissect his painful relationship with his parents in order to salvage what’s left.

Because sometimes it takes proof you’re not actually family to become one.

My View:

As the blurb states, this is a story of Israel Ingham, who finds out at the age of 26 that he was switched at birth and given to the wrong family. Currently groomed to help run his father’s company in Sydney after a loveless childhood, he is suddenly plunged into the unknown. As he searches for truths, meets his birth family, and navigates through the rocky waters of trying to find his own identity, his relationship with his best friend develops into something more. The question is how to move forward when current relationships and a painful past stand in the way.

This is an enjoyable m/m romance by NR Walker, my first read by this author. I was transported to Sydney, Australia, where I became engaged with Israel’s compelling story and the characters that inhabit his world.

The cast of personalities feels authentic, and their interactions are honest and emotional. I also like that the relationships within the story grow and change and that Israel develops as a result of the crisis he endures. The scenes written with Israel’s birth family are particularly heart-warming, and those between Israel and his friends are also gratifying in their lightness and the obvious familiarity and love between the characters.

My issues lie mainly in the lack of sensory details and relationship development that would have added more depth to the story, offered a better understanding of Israel and Sam’s history together, and created a stronger connection to Israel as a main character. I feel the story would have been even more solid with some flashbacks or more vivid descriptions of Israel’s past relationship with his parents and with Sam. His first person narrative would have been the perfect vehicle for connection to the reader, yet there is a consistent “telling” of his emotions rather than a detailed description of his deeper emotional upheavals. He often cries and tells the reader about his guilt, his horrible childhood, and his anger through external discourse. Unfortunately, these descriptions are rather skeletal and lack “feeling.” More internal dialogue, flashbacks to his past, or reminiscences with Sam could have helped me connect with him, better understand his relationship with his parents, and further grasp his connection with Sam on a more personal level. I wanted to see more elaboration of his past with Sam as his friend, the coldness his parents displayed, and more depth of emotion in order to help support his reactions to the events and the people with whom he has spent his entire life either loving or hating.

This book as a whole is well-written, however, and takes on an incredibly difficult and unusual issue. The relationships with family are complex and laden with imperfections, mistakes, and regrets in the best of cases, let alone when there has been a costly error of identities lost. Ultimately, this story is about redemption through connection and forgiveness and about the power of familial love and acceptance of those we cherish, despite their origins. I recommend Switched for this, along with its brave look at dysfunctional relationships and its honest character interactions. I look forward to reading much more of NR Walker’s books in the future.

Links

Switched on Goodreads
Blue Heart Press
Amazon US
Amazon UK
Amazon CA

This review is based on a copy purchased by the reviewer independent of any review copies offered.

Farewell Giveaway
I have a number of paperbacks, most of which are signed, to giveaway. Over the between now (11 Mar 2017) and 31 Mar 2017, every comment on the blog (this post and all other new posts), will be entered to win 1 of these paperbacks. There are also some misc swag items, so there will be a few packs of these to give away as well.

Thank you so much for your support over the last 4 years. Prism will be closing its doors on 1 April 2017. All content will remain available, but no new content will appear after 31 Mar 2017. As such all request forms have been turned off. Again Thank you,

Brandilyn
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