Changers, Book One: Drew by Allison Glock-Cooper and T Cooper

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Changers, Book One: Drew by Allison Glock-Cooper and T Cooper

Category: Teens
Rating: 4/5
Reviewer: Jill Murphy
Reviewed by Jill Murphy
Summary: Speculative story about a secret race of humans who change persona four times during adolescence before making a permanent choice about who they are. It's all about identity - gender, sexuality, etc - and empathy for others. Heartfelt and moving, but occasionally lacks subtlety.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 288 Date: January 2016
Publisher: Atom
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 0349002428

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Some teenagers worry about who they'll wake up next to. Others worry about who they'll wake up as...

Ethan, who is 14, is just hoping to wake up in time to begin his high school career in a brand new town. Imagine his shock when he wakes up AS A GIRL. What the what? How can this happen? It turns out that Ethan, now Drew, is a Changer, one of an ancient race of humankind, and he will undergo not one, but THREE more such changes - one for each year of his time at high school. Drew's parents are overjoyed at their offspring's transformation but Drew is not happy at all.

But there's no going back and over the course of a year, Ethan, the boy, will learn to live as Drew, the girl. And along the way this young Changer will learn a great deal about identity....

I did enjoy Changers, I really did. It wears its heart on its sleeve and its messages of inclusivity and understanding are incredibly powerful. But it's not perfect. Readers who want subtlety in their stories might feel it's lacking in Changers. The idea that Changers represent marginalised groups who experience discrimination - women and sexism, LGBT people and homophobia and transphobia - is um... more like a sledgehammer on your head than a gradual realisation. And sometimes the latter is actually more effective. And you'll have to suspend some credibility over how this all works. Amazingly, the life-cycle of an ancient species of human has evolved to exactly match an American high school career, for example.

But these nitpicks aside, Changers is a lovely book and a lovely idea. It captures teen perspectives remarkably well and I particularly liked Ethan's gradual replacement by Drew over the course of the story. Our central character begins as a very recognisable and terrified boy stuck in the unfamiliar body of a girl but by the end, and often without the reader noticing the changes, becomes a very recognisable teen girl with a very changed perspective. This evolution of the central character was subtle and it was all the better for that. At one point, the book explores the issue of consent - I don't want to include any spoilers, so I won't say more - and I did a little cheer. It's so vital that this message is spread far and wide.

The story is really a plea for empathy and an illustration of the complexity and transformational nature of identity. We could all do with more empathy. We've all woken up wishing we could be someone else, if only for a day. And if you have ever felt the need of some empathy or been confused about your identity, or if you are now, take a trip on over to the Changers related Empathy Project. You'll like it there.

Other stories looking at issues of identity include Parallel by Lauren Miller, Flip by Martyn Bedford and Alex As Well by Alyssa Brugman. It's always worth walking a mile in another person's shoes.

Buy Changers, Book One: Drew by Allison Glock-Cooper and T Cooper at Amazon You could get a free audio download of Changers, Book One: Drew by Allison Glock-Cooper and T Cooper with a 30-day Audible free trial at Amazon.co.uk.


Buy Changers, Book One: Drew by Allison Glock-Cooper and T Cooper at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Changers, Book One: Drew by Allison Glock-Cooper and T Cooper at Amazon.co.uk.


Buy Changers, Book One: Drew by Allison Glock-Cooper and T Cooper at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Changers, Book One: Drew by Allison Glock-Cooper and T Cooper at Amazon.com.


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