The Switch sisters, the only Chinese family in Ambrose, have always been considered a little odd by the townspeople–especially the mother. People flock to her Chinese restaurant, but steer clear of her otherwise. But everything changes when beautiful Mara Switch, the eldest daughter, is accused of murder. The family then must step into the spotlight to prove her innocence—all without revealing a dark family secret.
Bubby: I was just sitting at home, minding my own business when my phone dinged at me, signifying an incoming email message. It was from Sissy, telling me to read this book. I was gratified that she took the time to think of me whilst on vacation (she abandoned me and went to Disneyland last week) and read The Switch Sisters right away. What a lovely little gem of disturbing quirkiness! About 1/3 of the way in I was sure I knew the direction the plot was going to take. I had it all figured out. And then the bombshell dropped – and the plot went in a direction I had never even considered!
Sissy: I found this book on Amazon.com and was surprised, because of the title, that it was a book about Chinese immigrants. Switch is not exactly a common Chinese name but that is explained in the book. Anyway, I liked it alot because it was weird and different and that appeals to me.
Bubby: It appeals to you because you ARE weird and different. Normal is boring! We grew up in a little town similar to Ambrose and there were no Asians (or African-Americans for that matter) in our town at all. Even the people who ran the Chinese restaurant were not Asian – they were Hispanic. I can imagine that the arrival of a pregnant Chinese woman with 3 daughters and no husband would have created quite a stir. Throw in a spooky house and rumors of witchcraft and it’s easy to see why the Switch sisters had a hard time being accepted by their peers. One of my favorite lines is when Mara tells her mother that her upcoming wedding is “Our chance to prove we’re not what they think we are!” and her mother replies, “The problem is we are.” See, the rumors of witchcraft aren’t just rumors. The Switch girls are all witches – all five of them.
Sissy: Bubby’s secret desire is to be a writer of book synopsi (this is my made-up word for the plural of synopsis). That’s why she writes these interminably long spoilers in every review we do. I think she’s got things bottled up inside that need to come out! I appreciate you all reading this and being therapy for her.
Bubby: Oh, so many things I want to say. So many. Too many to choose from, therefore I will ignore Sissy’s rudeness and encourage her to GET BACK TO THE STORY!
Sissy: You know how in a small town everyone knows things about everyone else and there are rumors about this or that strange family and their secrets? That’s how these poor Switch sisters were talked about. They had to suppress their specialness so that everybody didn’t get crazy and run them out of town. This happens to me sometimes when I’m looking too beautiful and the neighbors get jealous.
Bubby: Sissy may have gotten a little too much sun on her vacation. The craziness is a little out of control today! I will try to see that she gets back on her medication before our next review. At the risk of more rudeness from my dear sister, I am going to wax philosophical for just a moment. Isn’t it interesting that this family had to conceal their awesomeness in order to fit in? Why do we feel the need to lower ourselves or dumb ourselves down to meet the lowest common denominator? Why can’t we just be fabulous and to heck with those that choose to feel inferior? Embrace your differentness! Diversity is a wonderful thing. Being special is good. We are NOT all the same so why should we act like we are?
Sissy: That’s why I’m not getting a tattoo. Everyone has a tattoo now and they are not special.
Bubby: I thought it was because you’re afraid that your butt cheek will get saggy and your rosebud tattoo will turn into a dead chrysanthemum.
Sissy: That too. I liked this tale of extraordinary Chinese witches and I liked that despite their very different personalities, the sisters joined their unique powers together and turned their story into a happy one.
Bubby: The Switch Sisters is a different sort of story than I had read before. It was unique. I like unique. I was voted “Most Unique” in high school, you know. Well worth a read. 4 bubbles.
Sissy: Unique you are indeed, Bubby! I will give The Switch Sisters 3.75 weirdly-shaped bubbles–waiting for more from Gwen Li.
Click HERE to buy The Switch Sisters by Gwen Li from amazon.com