Well, my childhood was cold, clinical. Literally. I have no memory of being touched or comforted by either parent. I’ve been a long and consistent disappointment to my mother and father, which is no assumption on my part. Believe me, they told me many times. Well, my father has. My mother said nothing. My best friend is amazed I haven’t necked myself yet, and three weeks ago, we found out I was switched at birth. … Yeah. It’s a shitshow from start to finish.
Israel Ingham grew up in a cold, unwelcoming home with parents who largely ignored him and made it clear they were disappointed in him. Despite working for his father’s company and being a successful executive, Israel feels he will never prove his worth to them and has basically no relationship with either parent. While Israel has some close friends, the biggest source of love and support in his life is his friend Sam. The men have been best friends since they were 13 and Sam’s family has all but adopted Israel. Sam is the one Israel can count on, the one who is always there for him, and the person that makes Israel feel good about himself.
Israel’s world is rocked when he learns that 26 years ago the hospital made a mistake and he was switched at birth with another baby. Suddenly, everything Israel thought he knew about himself has changed. He never felt like he fit with his own family, and now there is a reason why. Israel’s whole since of self is in upheaval, and once again, it is Sam standing by his side, offering support, and with Israel every step of the way. When Israel decides to meet his birth mom and the man who she raised, it opens up a new world for him, and again, Sam is there for the support he needs.
What surprises Israel most in all of this is how his feelings for Sam have been changing. He is beginning to look at his best friend with interest and attraction that has never been there before. Israel needs Sam so badly, he can’t imagine messing it up by sharing his feelings. But at the same time, it is becoming impossible to ignore how much he has started to want his best friend. And at times, it seems Sam may just feel the same way. Now as Israel faces upheaval in every aspect of his life, he must decide if it is worth the risk to share his feelings for Sam, and take a chance that the man he has grown to love does in fact love him in return.
Wow, this one just blew me away. When I read the set up for this story, I couldn’t get it into my hands fast enough. Friends to lovers AND switched at birth? Book crack I tell you. But this one exceeded all my expectations and was a book I could hardly put down.
First off, the switched at birth angle is handled so well. This is one of those crazy, one in a million situations and it could have been played here for sensationalism. But instead, Walker uses the event as an impetus for Israel to examine himself, who he is, and what he wants from his family, both new and old. Israel never falls too far into the trap of “what might have been,” but he does use this event to really think about his life and begin to affect some change. He has to think about his parents and how this changes what little relationship they have. Can things between them be saved? Does he even want them to? And what about this new family? What if they reject him like his parents did? Does he want a relationship with his birth mom and siblings? All of these issues are important and Walker gives them due weight as we see Israel work through things. And while there is intensity here, it didn’t feel overwhelmingly angsty to me. Instead, we get to see how this incident brings so many issues to the forefront and Israel is able to confront them and move on in a very positive way. Despite how bad things have been for him for so long, he ends the book in such a good and wonderful place and it is quite rewarding.
In addition, the friends to lovers aspect here is among the best I have ever seen it done. It is a slow burn between the guys, and things don’t move into a romantic relationship for a while. And that is good. Because what we need to see here, and what Walker builds so well, is just how important these guys are to each other. Sam is Israel’s rock. He has always been there for him, and even more so now. We see how Sam supports Israel through all the stress and each step in his journey. And we can tell just how strong their connection is, how well they know one another, and how important they are to each other. Israel’s growing awareness of Sam in a sexual way grows very organically and it makes total sense in their relationship. And when they finally get together? Wow. Holy hotness you guys. It is amazing. And all the more rewarding for seeing it build through the book.
So as you can tell, I absolutely loved this story. It explores such weighty issues and packages them in such an interesting way. And the relationship between Israel and Sam is so beautiful, so inspiring, you can’t help but love them both and want all the best for them. I was totally engrossed in this story from the very start and found it overall incredibly well done. I can highly recommend Switched to you all.