School Library Journal
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Gr 9 Up-Both Tasha, a California beach babe who prefers fun in the sun to studying in the library, and Emily, her British polar opposite, are forced out of their comfort zones in this amusing story of a student exchange gone wrong. The only thing that these girls have in common is that they are both trying to escape something. For Tasha, it's the embarrassment of baring it all (literally) online and the reputation that follows. For Emily, it's an ex-boyfriend and, hopefully, her control-freak ways that caused the split. Now they are living one another's lives on opposite sides of the Atlantic. Can laid-back Tasha survive an intense course load and disapproving classmates at rigorous Oxford? Can Emily loosen up and learn how to be spontaneous and casual? This is a quick, enjoyable read about how finding oneself often requires leaving behind everything familiar and embracing the unfamiliar. It is also about discovering that the people you think you have the least in common with are sometimes the ones you can truly trust, as well as learn from. Tasha and Emily demonstrate that although they cannot change the past, they can accept it and become better people because of it. McDonald does an excellent job of presenting these lessons in a humorous and entertaining manner.-Robyn Zaneski, New York Public Library (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.
Tubgate: the popular term used to describe California party-girl Tasha's videotaped hot-tubbing with a famous actor. It's all over the Internet and has made her life a living hell and so she accepts a last-second foreign-exchange swap with straitlaced Oxford sophomore Emily. The plot splits into alternating story lines, with each girl suffering vastly disparate academic requirements, hesitant first friendships, and romantic customs. Finally, the two use e-mail to send each other a switch survival guide, but putting on acts (Emily as slutty wild child infiltrating Santa Barbara's junior Stepford experience and Tasha as sober scholar stressed over minimal academic criteria ) is more difficult than they guessed. Though the title portends bubbly identity mishaps and it's true that this would make a slam-dunk teen movie McDonald's debut is more sober than it sounds, and you can almost feel her copious talents bursting at the seams of the restrictive plot. With its intelligent writing and interesting takes on feminism, this will be plenty popular with the intended set, but it's what McDonald does next that should be really interesting.--Kraus, Daniel Copyright 2009 Booklist
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First-time novelist McDonald skewers college life in this comic novel that has an uptight Oxford student switching places with a University of California party girl. Both are eager to flee their home campuses: Tasha is trying to dodge publicity surrounding her hot-tub antics with a TV star (aka "Tubgate"), and Emily has just been dumped ("As much as I-and my liberated, post-third-wave feminist self-hate to admit it.... This is all because of Sebastian"). A global exchange program seems the perfect escape, but creates more problems than it solves. While Emily has trouble loosening up in Santa Barbara (she had intended to spend the semester at Harvard), Tasha struggles to convince her peers and professor that she has a functional brain. McDonald plays with stereotypical images of Americans and Brits, painting both in broad strokes, but also challenges standard definitions of feminism. Though the protagonists' traumas, romantic interests and growing self-awareness are perhaps too neatly paralleled, the characters' strong personalities and the book's easy sense of humor will keep readers entertained. Ages 14-up. (Mar.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved