(Image from Barnes & Noble)
What do you do when you've got a workaholic mother, a father with anger management issues, an older brother who can barely remember your name, and an older sister who's so mean you wish she would forget you exist? Frannie Hudson's ready to trade in the lot of them. The 12-year-old is already frustrated with her un-ideal family, but when her parents decide to take a last-minute, no-kids-allowed vacation—on Christmas no less—she's furious. Taking a page out of Kevin McAllister's book, she wishes her family away. The only thing Frannie wants for Christmas is to be somewhere warm and safe with people who love her.
When Frannie awakens on Christmas morning, she's shocked to discover she's gotten her wish. Only she's no longer Frannie. Now, she's someone completely different, part of a warm, loving family of people she's never seen before. It's an amazing, magical adventure that gets even more insane when she wakes up the next day as someone new. And again. And again. As Frannie bounces into new bodies, she experiences all kinds of unimaginable things. Then, something truly crazy happens—she begins to miss her own family. Can Frannie return to her old life? Or will she be stuck in a chaotic carousel of Christmas Days for eternity?
Bounce by Megan Shull is a fun middle grade novel that entertains a question all of us have surely asked at one time or another: What if? Like Freaky Friday and other stories of this kind, the tale is about learning to appreciate what you do have. Bouncing into other people's lives broadens Frannie's world view, but it also helps her to realize that she's not the only one with problems. Most of the vignettes serve as filler, however, which makes for a saggy plotline at times. Still, Frannie's voice is authentic and engaging. She's definitely a sympathetic heroine, someone for whom it's easy to root. In the end, I enjoyed her story. I also appreciated that it closed not with a perfect ending, but with a satisfying one.
(Readalikes: I'm trying to think of other body switching stories, but, other than Freaky Friday by Mary Rodgers, nothing's coming to mind ... ideas?)
If this were a movie, it would be rated:
for brief, mild language (no F-bombs)
To the FTC, with love: I received a finished copy of Bounce from the generous folks at HarperCollins. Thank you!