All The Books I Can Read

1 girl….2 many books!

Review: The Swap by Robyn Harding

on July 13, 2020

The Swap
Robyn Harding
Simon & Schuster AUS
2020, 336p
Copy courtesy of the publisher

Blurb {from the publisher/Goodreads.com}:

Low Morrison is not your average teen. You could blame her hippie parents or her dreary, isolated island hometown. Whatever the reason, Low just doesn’t fit in – and neither does newcomer Freya, an ethereal beauty and once-famous social media influencer.

After signing up for Freya’s pottery class, Low quickly falls under her spell. Buoyed by Low’s adoration, Freya is compelled to share her darkest secrets and deepest desires. Finally, Low feels a sense of belonging … until Jamie walks through the studio door. Freya, Jamie and their husbands become fast friends, leaving Low alone once again.

Then one night, after a boozy dinner party, Freya suggests swapping partners. It should have been a harmless fling between consenting adults, but instead, it upends their lives.

And provides Low with the perfect opportunity to unleash her growing resentment.

If you follow reddit, there’s a sub called “Am I The As*hole” where people can put forth a scenario from their point of view and others can judge if they are the as*hole, not the as*hole, or everyone sucks here, which means everyone is. If this book were put forward to that subreddit, I think it would get a firm everyone sucks here.

Low is a teenager about to graduate high school. She lives in a super unusual family situation. Both her parents don’t really believe in monogamy and they have another partner and that other partner also has another partner. There may be more people involved in this small, commune-like environment, I can’t remember exactly what the dynamics are. Low has younger siblings and her mother is pregnant again and about to deliver. Low doesn’t feel like she fits in, be it at home or just in general in this small, Pacific north-west town. When she sees an advertisement for pottery classes, she signs up, meeting Freya.

Freya is an artist and former social media influencer, married to a former ice hockey player. She pulls not just Low into her orbit but also Jamie, who with her husband, is new to the area. Jamie and her husband Brian offer Freya and Max a type of friendship that Low cannot and she’s forced to watch on jealously…..and plan, so that one day, she becomes Freya’s chosen best friend again.

This book is a heck of a ride, from the very beginning. There’s a lot of mystery, intrigue, twists and turns, manipulation and a bunch of other stuff going on. In the beginning, it’s kind of hard not to feel sorry for Low. She seems so isolated – she seems to have few friends, even her parents have indicated that with the baby coming it might be best if she were to be elsewhere, she’s an adult now, that sort of thing. Someone like Low is ripe for the picking when a master manipulator like Freya comes along. For a while, Low basks in being Freya’s friend, confidant and chosen one. But after the arrival of Jamie and the fact that she and Freya soon become extremely close and Freya drops Low without a second thought, it….does things to Low’s psyche. She only has one goal and that’s to ingratiate herself back in with Freya and there’s pretty much nothing she’ll stop at in order to achieve that.

I’m older, so maybe it was just easier for me to see past Freya and I understood why Low was so enamoured with her at the beginning (but not after Freya treated her so callously). But I honestly couldn’t really see why Jamie was so willing to put up with the hot and coldness that is Freya. It’s a skill often used in high school, to keep people determined to curry favour, to be the chosen one, to revel in the glow of being the best friend of someone so beautiful and popular. But Freya and Jamie are grown women and Jamie, for the most part, seemed a sensible person. She keeps copping things Freya does on the chin, even the one thing that is designed to hurt her enormously, especially given the circumstances. Freya seems to control everyone around her, even her husband. There were times when I was super frustrated of the enabling that went on around Freya, the pandering to her, the sucking up, the constant reassuring of her being beautiful or wonderful or their chosen person. It got a bit tedious.

I had no idea where this was going and the ending gave me a lot of surprises….and I’m not sure it really showcased anyone in the best light! Even those who thought they were doing the right thing for the right reasons, had selfish motivations behind it and a blindness to what the right thing might really have been. Pretty much everyone in this book is highly dysfunctional in some way or another and does questionable things ranging from the mildly concerning to the probably should be in jail for a long time. Whilst there are plenty of points of view (Low, Jamie, even Max and Brian) there’s nothing to give true insight Freya and given everything people do in this book seems to revolve around her, that was rather disappointing because we are only constantly told of her appeal, but we don’t really get to see how she does it.

I enjoyed this and found the twists and various unexpected turns entertaining. But it was a cast of mostly despicable people doing mostly despicable things, which limited how much I could enjoy it.

7/10

Book #79 of 2020


One response to “Review: The Swap by Robyn Harding

  1. the bibliode says:

    I keep seeing this book on bookstagram and was quite excited to read it but then found some reviews which said that the book is quite bitter (don’t really know what they meant!)
    Great review 🙂

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