Wednesday, August 12, 2020

Book Review: The Swap

The Swap 
by Robyn Harding
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Fair warning: this is not a happy book. It features a lot of spousal abuse, massive mental friendship abuse, insecurity, jealousy and every other emotion you can think of that you might experience when you are desperate for someone's attention. I didn't dislike it; but I didn't really like it either. Robyn Harding delivers a well written, quick to read story that is shroud in a pseudo-mystery. While our lead couple pretend not to know what is going on; I believe in reality they do and so they keep the idea that there is a mystery alive in order to protect one another from the truth.

Hit Close to Home
The Swap reminded me of a time in my life (about 10 years now) where I let a girl control everything about my life and happiness. It took my husband saying I was forbidden to speak to her for me to actually break the toxic cycle. I had been stuck in that cycle for almost 15 years (since I was about 10 years old).
Everything said in this book is like a ghost of what I said to myself time and time again as a teen and into my early 20's. Harding brought me right back to those insecure moments where I justified the lying, cheating, and verbal abuse because I 'needed' this friend. As such I didn't really 'enjoy' reading this. And yet I did.

The Conundrum
If you read a book and it's super impactful; but not necessarily in a happy way, does that make it a good book? I think usually the answer is yes. In this case I felt icky after reading The Swap. But I don't think that is Harding's fault. I think it's that I'm still embarrassed to say that I fell for every tactic in the book in the past; as our leading gal also does. So I guess I would say The Swap is likely to make you feel uncomfortable at times. For some you may just want to yell and shake our leading lady into oblivion because you can't believe what she's doing. I had a little of each reaction at times.

I'm always intrigued by alternate choices from monogamy. Harding asks a hard question here about 'what is sexual infidelity'? If both parties in a marriage make the exact same mistake does that make it okay? Is it infidelity? If you believed you were doing what your 'partner wanted' does that justify the action? These are all questions that The Swap asks. I'm not sure an answer is really ever given. These are very personal acts and I believe each person will react differently based on their own past experiences or existing state of any sexual relationships.

What is clear to me, by the end of the book, but also on the topic in general: truth with your partner is always the best choice. Always. It's rare that lying to 'save someone's feelings' is a good option and this is no exception. Be upfront and you will find that maybe you're not as far away from the same thought as your partner. And if you are, then accept what you've done and figure out the next steps.
Love is a funny thing and Harding really puts strain on a couple to see what will happen and who will 'break' first. While this book made me feel belittled again I think the majority of people will really enjoy it if they have read Harding in the past. Give it's outside my usual genre, got personal, and has asks tough questions; The Swap was still superbly written and well worth a look.

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1 comment:

Leonore Winterer said...

I'm sorry you had to go through something like this in your life, and hope this book didn't open too many old wounds. It reminds me a little of Gone Girl, not exactly the plot but the way you describe as it making you feel. Im still not sure whether I really 'enjoyed' that one.