Tuesday, May 24, 2011

In My Shoes / Adrian Stephens

Reviewed by: BigAl

Genre: YA/Fantasy

Approximate word count: 90-95,000 words

Availability Kindle: YES    Nook: YES    Paper: YES
Click on a YES above to go to appropriate page in Amazon or B&N store


Adrian Stephens lives in Las Vegas with his wife and two children. You can find out more, including what book Stephens is currently reading, by visiting his website.


Jake is teenage boy, and Nicole is the girl of his dreams. When Jake attempts asking Nicole for a date, she shoots him down and is quite rude while doing so. Jake vows that if he were a girl he would never treat a guy like that. Maybe Jake will get a chance to prove it when the next morning he wakes and realizes he’s in Nicole’s bed and inhabits her body. Nicole now has possession of Jake’s body. Can they find out how to swap back and not ruin each other’s lives in the meantime?


My initial reaction to the premise of this book was, “it’s been done.” The idea of swapping places with someone goes back at least as far as Cyrano de Bergerac who did a low-tech version. The book Black Like Me wasn’t a full-fledged swap, but did mine the same territory. Freaky Friday is an even better touchstone. I’m sure there are many more I’m forgetting or don’t know. Then I read the Stephen’s bio on Amazon where he says he wasn’t much of a reader, rarely reading for fun, until about five years ago. I wondered if someone with so little experience as a reader could do a competent job as an author. My concerns turned out to be unfounded.

The reason certain story types are used and reused is the basic premise has a lot to offer. The cliché about walking in someone else’s shoes, the obvious inspiration for the title, has endless variations. The variations on this theme that are most likely to make a good story are those with two people prone to misunderstanding who find it difficult to imagine what the other person’s life is like. The parent child swap in Freaky Friday is a natural. So is swapping a teenage boy with a teenage girl.

As you’d expect Nicole and Jake find living the life of the other is more complicated than they realized. Stephens thought a lot about what it would take to make a situation like this work. Jake and Nicole gave each other extensive debriefings so they could learn to act correctly, otherwise they could damage relationships with friends and family for the other. Jake, in the body of Nicole, had to learn how to apply makeup and stop walking like a man. I was impressed at how well Stephens handled the details; especially the difficulties Jake had being Nicole.

A potential pitfall of a novel like this is keeping track of who is who. If Jake does something, is it Nicole in Jake’s body or Jake in Nicole’s body? Most of the time Stephens managed to keep this clear. Any uncertainty was limited to the confusion the characters were also feeling.

This is a fun read for teens and many adults. It should give either gender an appreciation for the challenges of the other – I know it did me. Or you can choose to overlook the lessons and concentrate on the humor in the situation. It’s funny, as long as it isn’t you in someone else’s shoes.

Format/Typo Issues:

No significant issues.

Rating: **** Four stars


Walter Knight said...

I like the idea for "In My Shoes." I agree that a good writer can take an idea that has already been used, and go with it. I was just thinking, what if an alien and a human 'changed shoes.'

The Kindle price for "In My Shoes" is $9.99. Usually the sweet spot for new unknown Indie authors' books is about $2.99 on Kindle. Any thoughts on that?

Julia Walker said...

"what if an alien and a human 'changed shoes.'" Interesting. With all the interest in other worldly characters - werewolves and vampires - maybe a human could transpose with a more established superbeing - I dunno - seems some of the parameters are already set - rather than having to explore a whole new life form.