Book Review: The Holiday Switch

Published October 5th 2021

Author: Tif Marcelo

Lila Santos is ready for her last winter break of high school. The snow in her small town of Holly, New York, is plentiful, the mood is as cozy as a fuzzy Christmas sweater, and she’s earning extra cash working at the local inn—AKA the setting of the greatest film of all time, Holiday by the Lake—while moonlighting as an anonymous book blogger.

But her perfect holiday plans crash to a halt when her boss’s frustratingly cute nephew, Teddy Rivera, becomes her coworker. Lila is type A; Teddy is type “Anything but Lila’s Way,” and the two of them can’t stop butting heads over tangled icicle lights and messy gift shop merch. But when they accidentally switch phones one afternoon, they realize they’ve both been hiding things from each other. Will their secrets—and an unexpected snowstorm—bring these rivals together?

Find It On: Goodreads / Amazon

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The Holiday Switch is a cute YA holiday novel told from the POV of 18 years old Filipino American, Lila Santos, as she tries to earn more money to help pay for her dream university in Syracuse. She currently lives in the small town of Holly, New York where she gets a part time job at the gift shop in a local inn. She also moonlights as a holiday book blogger but keeps it secret as she fears her family will not approve. As she is working at the gift shop, she is joined by 19-year-old university student Teddy Rivera, who is the boss’s nephew.

Teddy takes a different approach to work than Lila, which frustrates her a lot. She is very (emphasis on very) set in her way as the way she does it is the way it always has been done and she has specific checklists that she wants to be followed. One thing that confused me is that Lila is very harsh on Teddy, so I wanted a little more information if all of these was directed at him or if she was this harsh on the others that worked there, too. This part confused me as the novel sort of ignores it in favor of Teddy and Lila working similar shifts. While I understand the need to keep the focus on the main characters, I just wanted a little clarification to better understand Lila’s character and not believe that she was targeting Teddy, which could be interpreted towards bully behavior.

Lila’s dislike for Teddy greatly puzzled me. I understood that she was unhappy with him working there, having to train him, and potentially having less hours, but Teddy did not even know Lila and how it would affect her. It was an unfortunate part of her character as I loved her other side. As the eldest sibling, she has a lot of pressure to be the good daughter and set an example for her younger sisters. She has her ambitions, but she does start to question if her current path is correct, and she agrees with it or if she was trying to make herself okay with her parents’ choices. This side of Lila where she has that inner turmoil made her a very relatable character. I also loved her love of reading and sharing it with the world. As a fellow book lover and blogger, it was easy to connect with her passion of this hobby.

Overall, this was a cute concept of two characters who each are hiding secrets from their families and grow along the way. The concept of switching phones is not plausible considering they each had distinct phone cases. While Teddy did not have a password, it seemed hard to believe Teddy guessed Lila’s so easily and that the two of them just went through each other’s phones. It added to the dialogue and behavior where the characters read a lot younger than what they were. This is where “young adult” really needs to be divided as this was not middle grade, but it was not the upper end of YA that usually contain characters of this age. I am not quite sure I am sold on the romantic connection between Teddy and Lila, but I grow to like them as individual characters. The intention of this novel mainly seems to be a holiday romance, so if I judged it based on this alone, it was not for me; however, as a cute fluffy coming of age type novel, I enjoyed it.

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