Change Places with Me by Lois Metzger
Published on June 14th 2016
Genres: Science Fiction, Young Adult
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Rose has changed. She still lives in the same neighborhood with her stepmother and goes to the same high school with the same group of kids, but when she woke up today, something was just a little different than it was before. The dogs who live upstairs are no longer a terror. Her hair and her clothes all feel brand-new. She wants to throw a party—this from a girl who hardly ever spoke to her classmates before. There is no more sadness in her life; she is bursting with happiness.
But something still feels wrong to Rose. Because, until very recently, Rose was an entirely different person—a person who is still there inside her, just beneath the thinnest layer of skin.
This book gave me serious Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind vibes. I loved that about it – it’s one of my favorite moves of all time. Change Places With Me had many differences of course, since we are dealing with a teenager in the not too distant future. But if you take the basic concept, the idea that you can have your memories altered, essentially to take the pain of them away, then you could understand this book.
Rose is such an unusual narrator. She spends a large amount of time telling us who she is going to be, and what kind of person she is – or will be – instead of being herself and letting us get to know her. She is constantly jumping from one though to the next, and everything she tries to do or become seems so forced. You really feel the wrongness of it all, if that makes any sense. It is almost uncomfortable at times.
But I know exactly who she is, the girl thought, as the door closed. It was clear as day. She’s the girl I would’ve been, if life was fair.
Grief can change people in ways we don’t expect or understand. This book wants us to consider what happens when you can’t overcome grief. It makes you question what you want to do with your memories and the feelings attached to them. For me, it made me wonder what I would do if given the opportunities she had. This is not a love story. It is barely even a story about friendship. But the story touches on very specific topics in a very unique way.
This little book is sci-fi, but not in an in your face kind if way. It is unsettling at its core, with a unreliable narrator that you almost feel sorry for, even though you can’t figure out exactly why. The atmosphere is just… indescribable. It is strange, that’s for sure. But it was a short read, and I continued to be intrigued enough to turn page after page. I worry that people won’t appreciate what this story is giving us. Speculative fiction tends to be that way, people either seem to love it or hate it. Sometimes they just don’t understand it. So maybe it won’t be for everyone. But I sincerely hope that people are willing to give it a chance.