Ezra Slevin is an anxious, neurotic insomniac who spends his nights questioning his place in the universe and his days obsessing over Imogen, a nerdy girl with gigantic eyebrows and a heart of gold.
For weeks, Ezra has been working up the courage to invite Imogen to prom. The only problem is Imogen’s protective best friend, Wynonna Jones. Wynonna has blue hair, jams to '80s rock, and has made a career out of tormenting Ezra for as long as he can remember.
Then, on the night of a total solar eclipse, something strange happens to Ezra and Wynonna--and they wake up in each other’s bodies. Not only that, they begin randomly swapping back and forth every day! Ezra soon discovers Wynonna’s huge crush on his best friend, Holden, a five-foot-nothing girl magnet with anger management problems. With no end to their curse in sight, Ezra makes Wynonna a proposition: while swapping bodies, he will help her win Holden’s heart…but only if she helps him woo Imogen.
Forming an uneasy alliance, Ezra and Wynonna embark on a collision course of mistaken identity, hurt feelings, embarassing bodily functions, and a positively byzantine production of Twelfth Night. Ezra wishes he could be more like Wynonna’s badass version of Ezra--but he also realizes he feels more like himself while being Wynonna than he has in a long time…
Wildly entertaining and deeply heartfelt, Where I End and You Begin is a brilliant, unapologetic exploration of what it means to be your best self.
So first off, I'll mention that I love the body swapping trope and some of my favorite films include Freaky Friday, Big, 18 Again, Vice Versa, 17 Again and the like. Now I've read a few body swapping books, and my experience has been that this trope doesn't translate all that well to the written form. Body swapping novels often end up being frustrating and confusing so though I was intrigued by the synopsis of this book, I was also a bit hesitant. But I needn't have been because the author really managed to pull it off here.
This story follows a somewhat shy, young man named Ezra Slevin who is obsessed with a girl named Imogen and is working up his courage to ask her to the prom. The only problem is Imogen's overly protective best friend Wynona a loud and annoying girl who has made Ezra's life miserable for as long as he can remember and seems to derive enjoyment from tormenting Ezra.
But on the night of the total solar eclipse, something weird happens to Ezra and Wynona — they wake up in each other's bodies. But what's especially strange is that they begin randomly swapping back and forth every day. To make things even more interesting, Ezra learns that Wynona has a crush on his best friend, Holden.
So the two enemies are forced to come together to form an alliance as they need to pretend to be the person whose body they're inhabiting. They also agree to help each other with their crush — Ezra will help Wynona with Holden and Wynona will help Ezra with Imogen, with the body swapping adding in all sorts of additional hilarious complications.
There's also the problem of the play all four of them are in, a rendition of Shakespeare's Twelfth Night in which a bit of gender swapping itself is part of the story. But also what's comical here is the whole issue of learning your lines and being expected to perform while in the wrong body.
The entire novel is told through Ezra's perspective which helps to keep track of the body swapping. Also helpful, is that when Wynona was in Ezra's body, he refers to her as Wynezra, which is super useful in keeping everyone straight. I was never confused or overwhelmed by the swapping and was delighted when the author turned up the tension a couple of notches by throwing in themes of gender fluidity and homosexuality into the works. This additional complexity really worked in this story, especially as various characters developed feelings for each other and thought that this added to the richness and depth of an already gripping plot.
What really worked for me with his book was the hilarity that would ensue if you found yourself not only in the body of the opposite gender but of someone whose personality is night and day different from yours and all this taking place while in high school. There were so many laugh-out-loud moments in this book, and I thought it was so much fun to go on this journey with Ezra and Wynona as they struggled to figure out how to live in each other's bodies, and navigate the challenges associated with the other's sex and personality.
I thought it was interesting how the story follows Ezra but is still able to give a deeper inside look into Wynonna's life through Ezra swapping bodies with her. Likewise, it gave Wynona a deeper peek into Ezra's life with each of them developing empathy and understanding for the other person's issues and baggage in the process. So this is also a story about how both people manage to find new wisdom by being in the other's shoes.
I like how this story teaches empathy and understanding. By using a body swap as a tool, the author gets to show the world through the other person's eyes resulting in a comedic contemporary with a heartfelt emotional relationship between two people who couldn't be more different. It also succeeded in illustrating how we cannot judge or make assumptions about others based solely on outward appearances and Norton provides a means of exploring one's own preconceived notions about others without being preachy.
I also loved how the author dealt with sexuality in such a unique and interesting way, a way that I haven't come across before in a novel. This book is a new twist on body swaps and with it come themes of sexual preference, gender fluidity and figuring out who you really want to be.
There are also themes of family, friendship, forgiveness, grief, and self-acceptance that also rendered this quite a serious novel as well. What especially worked for me was how Wynona and Ezra learned to be their authentic and best self at the end of the day.
What I liked about this story was how real and authentic these characters felt to me. The author gives us real teenagers with real problems and in so doing, provides us with a cast of flawed, lonely, impulsive and quirky individuals that are totally relatable.
Where I End and You Begin is as inventive as it is moving and ended up being a beautifully rendered story of love, attraction, sexuality, family, and friendship. It's a clever, engaging and wildly entertaining read and I felt that the author did an excellent job of bringing his characters to life, allowing all of them to thrive in their complexity. All in all, a lovely, subtle thought-provoking blow-me-away kind of book that I'm still mulling over. Needless to say, I loved it.
Preston Norton's Where I End and You Begin is a fun and different take on the Freaky Friday theme which may make you approach viewing any astronomic event with a bit of trepidation.
"My excuse was that I was an antisocial loser with crippling anxiety who had no intention of branching out of my small, sad, pathetic world, thank you very much. I mean, my greatest strength was math, for Christ's sake!"
Ezra has been obsessed with Imogen Klutz since the fourth grade, but as much as he's thought about wanting to be with her, he's never had the courage to make a move. But never before has that weighed on Ezra as much as now, when his fear of asking her to prom has literally given him insomnia. Yet even though he becomes a stuttering buffoon in the presence of this beautiful girl with the gigantic eyebrows, he can't think of anything else he wants more.
His biggest obstacle? Imogen's best friend and near-constant companion, Wynonna Jones. Wynonna, with her blue hair and style that could be described as either "military hippie-core" or "80s vomit-punk," enjoys nothing more than tormenting Ezra every chance she gets. Which of course, leads to Ezra's humiliation and serves as a catalyst for his inability to ask Imogen to prom.
And then one night, when Ezra and his best friend, Holden, plan to watch a total solar eclipse from the roof of their high school—a plan also shared by Imogen and Wynonna—something goes completely awry. Ezra and Wynonna somehow wake up the next morning to find that they have switched bodies. And to make the horror worse, they keep switching back and forth every day. It's a torture neither can believe has been inflicted on them.
When Ezra-as-Wynonna discovers her secret crush on Holden, of all people (probably the person she loves fighting with almost as much as she does Ezra), his desperation gets the best of him, and he and his nemesis make a deal. If Wynonna can help him win over Imogen, Ezra will help her land Holden. Seems pretty straightforward, right?
But with the craziness involved in their body-switching, who is Imogen falling for, Ezra or Wynonna's badass version of Ezra, the guy he wishes he could be? Needless to say, hijinks, mistaken identities, and embarrassing situations ensue.
This was a cute book. Norton, whose first book, Neanderthal Opens the Door to the Universe, I was definitely a fan of, knows how to create endearing, fun characters who aren't all bravado and confidence. This book got a little silly at times but it had a good heart, and of course, a tremendous amount of suspending your disbelief is required. But the fun definitely was worth the silliness!
NetGalley and Little, Brown Books for Young Readers provided me with a complimentary copy of the book in exchange for an unbiased review. Thanks for making it available!
- absolutely loved the conversations regarding gender expression and sexuality -- in books with gender swaps it's such a natural conversation to have, but so few books have it! the conversations were so necessary and heartwarming to see in this book!
- i really loved both our main characters and the friendship they seemed to develop; part of me wishes it could be more but that might be the inner rom-com within me scratching to come out. beyond everything, i'm glad wynonna has someone in her corner, and seeing her happy ending was so heartwrenching and valuable.
- as much as we came to terms with wynonna's daddy issues i think there was more to develop within ezra's relationship with his parents. i really was expecting him to acknowledge his own feelings of loneliness, as well as potentially gang up with his sister to speak up to them about their cheating as a symbol of the reconciliation of their sibling relationship. as wondrous as the roscoe x wynonna (and ezra i guess in a way) and ezra x willow relationships were, i felt we didn't get much of the absent but good-hearted slevin parent duo.
- ezra's digging into wynonna's personal relationships was... not okay. i understand what his intentions were, but completely faking relationships with wynonna's grandmother and father when he was explicitly told not to should not be condoned in the story in any way. if anything, it should have been a mutual effort between him and wynonna built off of cues that were outside of his control (conversations or engagements started by carol and roscoe). it made me icky that he was completely overstepping something he thought was okay because he thought it was in wynonna's best interests when it was really his ( he directly quotes his first extended interaction with carol was because of his own curiosity while acknowledging that wynonna would have killed him... bae her interests should have taken priority over your own)
overall however, much enjoyed! the whole gang was very cute and i can never stand to hate a book which gives me countless she's the man references. :)
I received an ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
Where I End & You Begin by Preston Norton is a unique and fun YA contemporary body swap novel - think Twelfth Night meets Freaky Friday. For the most part, this novel really delivered for me. The cast of characters was complex and quite engaging, but Ezra himself was easily my favorite and the easiest to relate to for me. No matter what the exploration of identity is fascinating. Plus, I have to admit I totally enjoyed all of the pop culture references. I only have two gripes: there are several passages that could have been trimmed down and I hoped for a better conclusion to to certain plot elements. Overall, I highly recommend this novel if you enjoyed Norton's style in Neanderthal Opens the Door to the Universe and She's the Man. I'm definitely looking forward to more from Preston Norton in the future.
“I sat on the curb, leaned back, and looked at the stars - crystallized, sparkling against the black tarp of the sky. I wondered how much of me was up there. How many times I had disintegrated, dissolved into that infinite sea, become one with something so much bigger than myself. How many times had it saved me?”
In total, Where I End & You Begin was a quirky, well-plotted, genuinely funny novel that took a played-out trope and made it feel fresh. (and no, I definitely don’t like this book just because they do a production of Twelfth Night. But it certainly didn’t hurt) Rating: 4 Ezward Slevinhands/5
This outstanding teen novel was recommended by a co-worker and I'm so grateful for the recommendation! Author Norton uses a deft touch, lots of comedy, Shakespeare's "Twelfth Night", and pop culture references in a tale that explores love, friendship, family relationships, and gender identity, all in a very entertaining way.
Ezra Slevin, a shy and insecure insomniac, is secretly in love with Imogen, his ideal date to take to the prom. However, Imogen's best friend, Wynonna, a brash and annoying female fan of 80s music, stands in his way. Adding to the complications is the fact that Holden, Erza's best friend, is smitten with Wynonna. It takes a solar eclipse and body swapping between Ezra and Wynonna to hilariously help solve all these dilemmas.
A great read, especially for older teens! – Louisa A.
“‘I think that there are so many words and labels for who we can be, and what we can be attracted to, and what we can identify as, that it’s sometimes easy to forget ourselves. The important thing isn’t the word or the label. The important thing is you.’”
My goodness, what a queer little book this was! And I mean that in both senses of the word!
The bare bones plot of this novel is that our two main characters, Ezra and Wynonna, swap bodies Freaky Friday style every time there’s a solar eclipse. Only after the last one, they keep switching back and forth. And that’s when the fun begins.
This book has all the makings of a wonderful coming of age story: a sexual identity crises, classic teenager antics, dick jokes, misunderstandings, a plot to help each other get the person of their dreams, and above all else: a high school play to put on!
I love these characters, I loved to see them grow and learn about themselves and each other, and I love how easily I fell into this story with such a ridiculous premise.
Oh and Ezra is a Sufjan Stevens fan, which is top tier.
rep: queer MCs and SCs, MC with dyslexia, MC with insomnia, MC with anxiety
Wow wow wow, I really liked this book! It was quirky, hilarious, and very well-written. The characters were dynamic and interesting and the way this plays into the body swapping is great. Each character is dealing with something, even down to the secondary characters, and I really felt close to all of them. The author covered sexuality in a way I haven't really heard before and, though I don't personally relate to how it comes up in the book, I think it was so important to see in a YA book (or any book for that matter). Honestly, this book was really beautiful and funny- you should definitely read it.
Big thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for the ARC in exchange for an honest review!
Cute and quirky, but I expected something more. Although semi-entertaining, the MC's inner monologue bordered the fine line between charismatic and annoying; so much of it was unnecessary. There were a few LOL moments, especially during friendly banter. I was interested in the story but it had pacing issues, and it could have easily been 300 pages instead of 400. I could, however, see this being a funny Netflix-type movie.
Where I End And You Begin is a truly unique story. It was not what I expected, but I liked it because it's unusual and requires you to think. The characters are likeable and engaging and entertaining. The story is well written and kind of crazy but in a good way. I think young adult readers will enjoy it. Thanks to NetGalley for an arc in exchange for an honest review.
Lubicie "Zakręcony piątek"? Mi ogromnie podobała się zarówno ta stara wersja z Linday Lohan, jak i nowa, disneyowska w odrobinę musicalowym stylu. Nie czytałam opisu, więc nie miałam pojęcia, że tutaj też mamy do czynienia z tym motywem i o matko. Ta książka jest tak inna od poprzedniej autora, ale jednocześnie tak fajna!
Przyznaję, że początkowo jest tak sobie, trzeba się wkręcić i ogarnąć, o co tu właściwie chodzi. A chodzi o to, że bohaterowie kompletnie nie wiedzą, są zagubieni i co najmniej zdziwieni, a my razem z nimi. I razem z nimi odkrywamy, o co w tym wszystkim chodzi, dlaczego ta zamiana, co do niej doprowadziło. I ja uwielbiam takie motywy! Uwielbiam, kiedy na moich oczach bohater dorasta, dojrzewa, otwiera się, a wszystkie puzzle wskakują na swoje miejsca.
Ta opowieść to totalnie moje klimaty i już nie mogę się doczekać, aż będę miała okazję przesłuchać kolejnych książek autora! <3
This book took me so long to read (even during coronovirus quarantine!) It was so weird and more than a little awkward. Lots of curse words throughout the book, too many f-bombs to even count, not worth it to be honest. I guess the ending was ok except that the major conflict was not resolved and it just kind of ended abruptly. I'm really surprised that it has over a 4 star rating overall. I think it hovered between 1 and 2 stars and maybe I leaned up because I was so excited that I finally finished it.
I'm not going to lie, my diehard never ending love for She's the Man was 60% of the reason I picked this book up (so the fact that it was referenced MULTIPLE times with direct quotes was basically a dream) so I was expecting it to just be a fun body-swapping read. But it turned out to be this really funny, really lovely sort of exploration of being your authentic self, and gender and sexuality, and family and friendship, and trauma, and none of that ever felt like it was forced in, or was a check mark on a list. It was just a very authentic story.
And Ezra's narrative, man - it was the best! I know some people are really not going to jive with this book because of the writing style but it really worked for me and it was what kept me enthusiastically reading through the parts that were a little slower. I loved literally every character and the complexity of their relationships and I LOVED the really special relationship between Ezra and Wynonna, and I just really loved everything so yeah, 5 whole stars to this one.
Jeeezu. Moja lekcja, którą wyciągnąłem w ramach czytania tej książki: nie ufać polskiemu bookstagramowi, bo ci pozwoli pomyśleć, że są tam lesbijki (nie ma).
Norton ma bardzo poważny problem z wyważeniem ile nawiązań do popkultury może przekroczyć granice dobrego smaku, ponieważ WPIERDALA JE w każdym randomowym momencie. Bohaterowie uśmiechają się jak *wstaw randomowego aktora*, robią coś jak *wstaw randomową postać z randomowego serialu*, nawalają się po pyskach niczym w *wstaw jakiś nudny chłopaczkowy film sprzed dwudziestu lat*. Jeszcze pół biedy, gdyby to były nawiązania faktycznie pasujące do gen Z w 2019 roku, a tymczasem osoba autorska ma ponad trzydzieści lat i bardzo to widać.
Ale ok, to wciąż nie jest *najgorszy* element tej książki. Najgorszym elementem jest bowiem bycie absolutnie tone deaf w kwestiach metafor oraz zainteresowań bohaterów. Nawiązanie do Rowling: jest. Tak, tak Jan Głębboki to abuser, no wiem, przykre, ANYWAYS, UWIELBIAM JEGO ROLE I MAM MU ZADEDYKOWANY KANAŁ NA JUTUB. A te akademiki to może kiedyś były przyzwoite, ale teraz to przypominają bardziej Romana Polańskiego. Haha, bo wiecie. Pedofil. Nieprzyzwoity. Boki zrywać. Proszę się puknąć w kaczan, droga osobo autorska.
Ocena jest też niska, bo ta książka jest nijaka, zabójczo ŻADNA. Nie zmieniła w moim życiu zupełnie nic, może poza dostarczeniem irytacji powyższymi zarzutami oraz przeświadczeniem, że dostałem zupełnie coś innego, niż oczekiwałem. Sory, jeśli ktoś mi mówi, że jest tam "mlm i wlw, ale nieco inaczej", to raczej nie nazwałbym tak sytuacji, w której laska całuje się z typem w ciele innej laski. Ani sytuacji, w której główny bohater mówi, że skoro jest zakochany w lasce i zamienia się czasem ciałami z inną laską, to znaczy, że jest trochę lesbijką. Zamknij ryjjjjj. To nie jest sapphic. Kurtyna.
I received an ARC of this book from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review
I was surprised at how much I enjoyed Where I End and You Begin, especially since the start feels rocky. The book opens with Ezra and his best friend Holden breaking into their school during a lunar eclipse, because they know Ezra's long-time crush Imogen is there observing it and Ezra wants to ask her to prom. Imogen's best friend, and Ezra's long-time nemesis, Wynonna is also there, and after a bit of dramatics, the four teens' punishment for trespassing is forced involvement in their school's play, Twelfth Night. But also! Ezra and Wynonna are shocked when they have brief flashes of occupying each other's bodies. These flashes become more frequent of longer duration as time goes on, and the two conspire to at least help each other out in the romance department during their transposals.
The writing style for this was a little grating; the author wrote very much like a person who grew up in, like, 2007 but was making things relevant to now. There are a lot of pop culture references and then explanation of those references, including paragraphs about the 2006 movie She's the Man (which is also Twelfth Night related). I felt that those parts and a bit of the story could have used some trimming and would have still kepts its heart.
That criticism aside, I was invested in what was happening to Ezra/Wynonna! I really liked how genderfluidity and sexual identity are explored in the story in a nuanced and positive way. And even though the story's premise is about Ezra crushing on Imogen, romance takes a huge backseat to friendship (of all types) and family dynamics, which really steer the story.
*Thanks so much to Disney Book Group for providing me an eARC via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.
3.5 / 5 stars
Where I End and You Begin follows the troublesome situation of two teenagers body-swapping. Ezra and Wynonna must navigate acting like each other until they can figure out how to stop swapping. Ezra and Wynonna definitely do not see each other eye to eye at first, but they must learn how to better understand and support each other so that they can stop this unique situation.
This book is filled with meaningful friendships and conversations. Everything went a lot deeper into diverse topics than I thought it would and I really appreciated it. I genuinely enjoyed most of the characters all the time throughout the story. I thought it was interesting how the story follows Ezra but is still able to give a deeper inside look to Wynonna through Ezra swapping lives with her. I thought the approach for this would be a bit different but this was actually a more impactful approach to me.
Overall I enjoyed this story and I found it to be quite humorous at times. The writing was fairly simplistic but it really captured the important moments and content well. The idea for this story is not original but it does take it in a pretty unique direction that others have previously avoided. The book does include some language that may not be suitable for all readers. It was a good contemporary read for me and I would recommend it.
TW: Sexual exploitation/revenge porn of a minor, death of a parent, alcoholism
In all reality, this is an incredibly enjoyable book. The characters are interesting, and who wouldn't love a "Freaky Friday" esque body-swapping plot line with characters who hate each other? The characters are interesting and the way sexuality and gender is worked through in this story feels genuine and authentic. BUT.....there are WAY TOO MANY pop culture references made. I'm all for an occasional nod to a movie, a book, or a celebrity since that's how we all clarify things every now and again. But I counted 74 specific (like...not at all subtle) name drops, not including the countless Shakespeare references, brand names (Play Doh, Dr. Pepper, Burger King just to name a few), or some of the ones I'm sure I missed. There are THREE separate mentions of My Chemical Romance. It was so excessive that I found it incredibly distracting and was more focused on building my list of references.
I mean, Steven King, Josh Groban, Judi Dench, Colin Firth, Taylor Swift, Cate Blanchett, Alan Rickman, Gordon Ramsay, Heath Ledger, Dave Franco, Josh Brolin, and Marilyn Manson didn't really do much to advance the plot.
If you can let yourself just read without focusing on this minor fact, I think this is a great read for the summer, but holy hell....I can't get over it.
This book was written for pop culture enthusiasts, nerds, and others everywhere. One of the funniest books that I have read in a very long time. Norton encapsulated the torment of being in love, in high school and not quite fitting in or understanding oneself. Then once you are wrapped in that misery, he takes it a step further. Switching bodies between female and male characters who don’t really like each other all that much and allowing for such a personal insight was funny and allowed feelings of empathy for each person’s personal baggage. Looking for more Preston Norton on Amazon and hoping that someone make a movie out of this book. Disclaimer: I received a proof copy from Netgalley to review this book. I really enjoyed it, too.
Bravo! This was such a fantastically well done book! Quirky, unique and dare I say, STRANGE (in the best way possible), characters. The characterizations in this book were certainly a highlight but Norton also was able to get us truly invested in their friends and family and the trauma surrounding them. I am also impressed with Nortons ability to take sexuality out of the box. Allowing us to see another take on it in this unusual experience of body swapping. Highly engaging!
I think the idea is solid and interesting; the humor is laugh out loud good. But somehow the story dragged and become overly complicated in some areas. I found myself skimming because it just couldn't hold my interest.
Wow, was für ein tolles Jugendbuch <3 Rasant, spaßig, unvorhersehbar, emotional!
Ich liebe es, wie der Autor die Themen Gender, Geschlecht, Sexualität usw. bei den Figuren 'entkategorisiert'. Die Figuren erkennen, dass sie keine Schubladen brauchen. Das war so erfrischend! Auch der Umgang mit Homo-, Bi-, Pansexualität; ganz nüchtern und klar: es kommt nur drauf an, welche Person man liebt, egal welchen Geschlechts/...
I honestly wished I could have given this book more stars, but sadly that wasn't the case. I found this book to be fast to read and really entertaining, and I loved the two main characters, Ezra and Wynonna, and all the body swapping plot was honestly so good, but sadly I had some problems in relating with some of the love stories and one character in particular, Imogen. I feel like Ezra was in love with the girl without even knowing her so well, clinging to a childhood dream that surely does not apply in his actual age, the teenage years.
I would like to do a little praise because Norton really described so well the struggle of a boy being in a girl's body, or a girl being in a boy's body. Even in the impossibility of it all, it think it could be pretty accurate to how could it be if something like that was real. Also, I loved how sex positive this book was, for being a YA. Sex was described as a natural thing, and Norton really didn't hide anything at all, and I liked that a lot.
The friendship between Ezra and Wynonna and Ezra and Holden was top notch, I really loved the friendship relationships in this book, they were the purest ever. Also, a YA book talking about gender fluidity and the importance of not having labels? I actually stan.
One thing I did not really like and made me lower my rating was, without spoiling, how a really bad fact that happened to Ezra's sister went basically unpunished. I would have liked to see more of a resolution on that front, and some more severe measures.
I still really recommend this book, though, if you want to read a good YA with some magical elements and really good friendships.
TW: absent parents (for a while), description of a car accident, boys swapping material about a girl in intimate acts, messed up family relationships.