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"This is a transcendent book and I absolutely recommend it."
--Heaven to Earth Reviews
"This is one of the most creative concepts I have heard about, so I knew I would have to read it right away! I was worried that the execution wouldn’t be as good as the concept, but it was amazing
I cannot wait to read the rest of the books in this series."
"4 huge stars. Maybe even 4.5. I really enjoyed this book, and can't wait to read the rest of the series!"
--The Overstuffed Bookcase
"I couldn't put it down. I even read it in the dark. Probably not the best idea since my vision is already bad. But hey! good books deserve sacrifices."
--Paper Boat Sails
--Twinja Book Reviews
"Changers Book One really stole my heart."
"This first book in the Changers series explores Ethan/Drew’s first steps along the perilous journey to become his/her true self and discover how he’s meant to change the world."
--Books YA Love
"I was thrilled to discover a book that deals with issues of identity and belonging with so much heart and, more importantly, humor . . . Changers Book One: Drew changed the way I think."
--Clay Aiken, singer/UNICEF ambassador
One of the Top 10 2014 Books I am Excited to Read, Plays Well With Books (blog)
"Change. It’s the one universal thing that everyone goes through, especially in high school. Changers Book One: Drew ratchets that up a notch and kicks open the door, with both humor and panache. Big questions and equally big highs (laughs) and lows (cries). And you thought high school was awkward before!"
--Kimberly Pauley, author of Sucks to Be Me
More praise for T Cooper and Allison Glock-Cooper:
"Allison Glock is a writer of uncommon generosity."
--New York Times Book Review
"Cooper's storytelling skills are phenomenal."
--Time Out New York
"Glock's writing is smart and swift. A wise and effortless storyteller."
"T Cooper is a prodigious talent."
--Darin Strauss, author of Chang & Eng
"Allison Glock has the kind of writing talent that packs worlds into sentences."
--Frank McCourt, author of Angela's Ashes
"T Cooper has an affinity for creative liberties, even in anything-goes 21st-century fiction, liberties of a stunning sort . . ."
"Allison Glock makes it looks easy."
--Elizabeth Gilbert, author of Eat, Pray, Love
Changers, by husband-and-wife team T Cooper and Allison Glock Cooper, turns fluid gender identity into a kind of superpower at the center of their fictional, perhaps even utopic fantasy series for young adults. In a literary nod to Virginia Woolf's classic 1929 novel, Orlando, in which an English poet swashbuckles through several centuries, writing verse and taking lovers while living as first a man, then a woman, the teens in Changers wake up on the first day of every year of high school as a person of a different gender. At the end of the four years, each Changer chooses a single body in which to live out the rest of their lives. Thus on the first day of high school, freshman Ethan wakes up to discover he is no longer a skinny-jeans-wearing skateboarder but that an admittedly sort of hot blonde named Drew has taken his place in his Slayer T-shirt.
"Just think of all the insight you'll gain!" exclaims his/her mother. Drew's parents are in on it; Dad, like Drew/Ethan, is also a Changer; his mother is a Static, a person who does not change.
But as Chase, one of Drew's two love interests, puts it, "With great power comes great controlling rules." First among these is the (very heteronormative sounding) ban on Changer-Changer coupling. Just as in the real world, this ban is justified as a reproduction/racial purity thing — Changer-Changer couplings cause the entire family to revert to Statics and Changers are in the business of "producing more Changers, not fewer." (This rule knocks Chase, a fellow Changer and a boy, out as romantic contender.)
Changers have to come up with good excuses — they call them "feints, a.k.a. lies" — to explain their annual disappearances that "range from the exotic (sent to European boarding school) to the tragic (drug overdose)." (This means that Audrey, Drew's second love interest, a Static, and a girl, will not know where she has gone at the end of the year and imagine herself abandoned.)
Drew's body may be all-girl, but she has a bit of a pansexual thing going on herself, mostly seen as no big deal. When the mean girl Chloe — the archetypal head cheerleader — slags Drew and Audrey by calling them "Ellen and Portia," they snap back, "Wait, is homophobia even a thing anymore?" And their super cool English teacher brings them together casting them as Romeo and Juliet in "gender-bending Shakespeare," reminding the class that in Shakespeare's time, all the roles were all played by boys.
To Drew's surprise, her girl self is pretty darn good at girl things, even the "crazy unicorn-prancing thing" practiced by Chloe and her minions and she finds herself at the tip-top of the high school social pyramid — a varsity cheerleader, i.e., "queen of the world. (A really shitty, awful, confusing, heartbreaking world.)" Having conquered the jocks, she also attains hipster girl cool, as the drummer in a "Neo-emo-ska" band.
But cool as she is Drew, can't fully escape the Tennessee gender hell, where daddy dances co-exist with twerking and pink birthday guns. Like her real-life counterparts in "Beyond Magenta," she gains insight by seeing gender from both sides: She is well aware that becoming a girl means losing her male privilege, when, for example, she no longer called on in algebra class. She endures a particularly harrowing menstrual accident, gets first-hand experience of the power of the virgin/whore dichotomy, and reflects often on the different feeling of being in a girl's body. Most serious of all, a violent confrontation at a party results in Drew understanding the sexual vulnerability of girls and women, while another Changer, now in a boy's body, takes revenge for an assault he endured while living as a girl.
Gender is only one of many categories — or if one prefers, "stereotypes" — the authors encourage their readers to transcend. In a line reminiscent of The Breakfast Club, the novel's tagline reads: "The Cheerleader, the nerd, the jock, the freak — what if you had to be all four?" The authors' activism continues online with the "We Are Changers" website, labeled an "empathy project," in which teens are encouraged to think beyond other binaries, including immigrant/native, black/white, fat/skinny and so on. That exercise in imagining the lives of others may be meant to alleviate suffering, but it's also a reminder that Changers are already with us: we call them writers.
Amy Benfer has worked as an editor and staff writer at Salon, Legal Affairs, and Paper magazine. Her reviews and features on books have appeared in Salon, The San Francisco Chronicle Book Review, The Believer, Kirkus Reviews, and The New York Times Book Review.
Reviewer: Amy Benfer
Posted February 23, 2014
*I received the book for free through Goodreads First Reads, this ARC was provided by the Authors for an honest review.
This was such a moving story! A story that was nearly impossible to put down. When I read the blurb, I’m not going to lie I was a little nervous, plus I’m a cover junkie and this one didn’t give much away, but boy howdy was I wrong. It was a captivating and thoughtful book that brought new perspective to even my eyes, and I’m a girl. The story took my breath away! I was high on the emotional roller coast and amazing world the author’s portrayed, a truly impressive job.
Ethan Miller’s a freshman with an astounding surprise when he wakes up on his first day of school, he’s a changer…. Surprise! When our young Ethan wakes up he is no longer the young skater boy who is disgruntled by the sudden move his parents forced him to make he is now a she, Drew to be precise. And Drew is about to enter the world of changers, young adults who change bodies every year of high school, to learn empathy and change the world. This story is brimming with so much emotion and allows you to join Drew in her adventure to help preserve her race as well as learn what “to walk a mile in their shoes” really means.
This is a transcendent book and I absolutely recommend it, I’m half tempted to bribe my husband to read it because I know anyone who reads Changers will find it profound and beautiful as I did, plus he might appreciate women and what we endure on a regular basis, lol. Honestly give it a try guys, you won’t regret it.
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Posted June 3, 2014
Actual score 2.75
This book has a really interesting set up that peaked my interest when I was asked to review it. The plot revolves around Ethan, 14 year old boy that discovers he's from a race of people called Changers that transform every year in high school and are stuck like that all year. They have to chronicle their experiences as a different person and by the end of high school they have to choose who they wanted to be out of those 4 experiences. Very cool!
In Ethan's case, he went from being a a boy to a girl and life knows that has to be hard. He had a lot of struggle with it throughout the book but after a while I forgot that he was born a boy. He transitioned into a girl so naturally that that became his new identity. I can only imagine that's what it's like for transgendered people. I don't entirely know and I don't want to compare it without offending another person but I imagine for trans people you wake up in this body you don't believe is yours, you feel the opposite of what you were born and that's a scary feeling. This book touches a similar base to the transgender identity.
The worldbuilding in the book wasn't anything really special.I understood what was explained to me but I can't help feeling like I was missing details or that they're could have been more to the history of how the Changers came to be.
I think all in all this book was cute. Outside of Ethan living his life as a girl instead of how he was born, there wasn't really any diversity. I liked the relationships between some characters particularly between him and his best friend Audrey. But I just felt like there could have been more to keep my interest. I read it, enjoyed it but it wasn't life changing. I like the idea of being a different person for an entire year but what would be cooler is being to change into both male and female and being able to wake up as a different race. Imagine how different your experiences would be being a white girl for one year, and the next your a black guy. That would change how the whole world sees you, your experiences would be waaaay more complex. And think about it....the next person you change into is a female to male transgender of Indian descent. If the concept of the book was like this, I would invest way more into the series. But if the main protagonist doesn't learn anything new in the second installment, I may not continue with the series. After all what more can you learn if you just change into another white teenage boy?
I received this book in exchange for an honest review via the publisher/publicist