Summary: The House Swap
In The House Swap, tweens Allie and Sage are forced together when their families plan to swap houses goes awry. Allie is a British girl living in the countryside and preparing to be a spy when she grows up. She’s also the (overlooked, she feels) middle child, stuck between a teen brother and a talkative little sister. Sage is an only child in sunny California, growing up with parents who seem to be growing apart. She gets more worried when she discovers that only her mom will be coming with her to the English countryside. Both girls realize that they have more in common than they think and decide to help each other — Ally with Sage’s parents and Sage with being Allie’s friend.
This really did feel like The Parent Trap meets The Holiday in a great way! It had a slow start, so I quit the ebook about 12% in and started the audiobook when it was released — which I liked so much better. There are two narrators, one British and the other American and having both voices really sold it for me and carried me through until the plot picked up.
I liked both girls, although Allie took a while to grow on me. She’s the quintessential middle child whose parents seem to favor the other kids (or rather, they demand more attention. She also has a niche interest (spies) and reads books about them, and even tries to develop the skills necessary. Sage was easier to like. I could relate to her anxiety about her parents’ marriage and not wanting to be a child of divorced parents.
The story is also very atmospheric, and readers will feel drenched in the countryside setting and later in that sunny California setting. I loved the additional historical tidbit and storyline with Sage’s mom and the way the author resolves Allie’s discontent with her family. Best of all, though, is the girls’ friendship and the way it blossoms despite their differences.
Overall: The House Swap
The House Swap is a cozy, charming middle grade book about family (history & secrets), new friendships, and navigating parental divorce. Reminiscent of the beloved movie, The Holiday, this middle grade book is perfect for anyone looking for a feel-good reading experience with a touch of history, family drama, and characters you can root for.