Narrator: Joel Leslie
Length: 8 hours, 50 minutes
I absolutely loved Switched when I read it last year. The story combines an amazing friends to lovers theme with a man finding himself amidst a crazy, switched at birth situation. In fact, I loved it so much it was one of my Best of 2017 books. So needless to say, when I saw it was out in audio with one of my favorite narrators, Joel Leslie, I couldn’t wait to listen.
What I love most about this story is the incredible relationship between Israel and Sam. They have been best friends forever, and Sam is Israel’s rock. Israel has had a horrible upbringing by cold and disinterested parents who have made it clear he is a disappointment and they have little interest in him. What gives Israel the strength he needs day to day is this friendship with Sam. And when Israel’s world upends as he learns he was switched at birth, suddenly plunging him into even more uncertainty about his place in his family, Sam is the one who keeps him on track. I loved watching the slow progression of their relationship from best friends, to Israel’s attraction, to both men ultimately admitting how much they love and want each other. They have such a lovely relationship, caring deeply for each other, knowing each other so well, and so perfectly connected. This is paired nicely with the upheaval in every other aspect of Israel’s life, from learning the news about the switch, to meeting his birth family, to re-establishing his relationship with both his parents. Sam and their relationship brings the balance Israel needs to navigate it all.
I really enjoyed this story in audio and think Leslie does an amazing job. I have listened to many books by Leslie and I am constantly amazed by his skill. The characters all had unique and distinct voices, making it easy to tell them apart even in conversation. This was particularly noteworthy for Sam and Israel, given that the men are alone in conversation for large portions of the book. It couldn’t have gotten confusing figuring out who was talking, but I never had any trouble telling them apart. All the side characters were nicely narrated, including the female characters.
What I really appreciated most is how Leslie highlighted the emotion of the story. Israel is really thrown by the news of the switch, especially given the rocky relationship he has with his parents. As the situation gets worse and worse with them and tensions rise, you can just feel Israel falling apart and Leslie captures that perfectly. The increasing stress and worry and sense of things being out of control for Israel just come through in Leslie’s voice. And as Israel begins to get a handle on things and tensions begin to ease, we can feel that through the audio as well. So I appreciated that Leslie really brings the book to life and gives us great depth of emotion here that fits the story so well.
So I absolutely loved revisiting this story again in audio. It was one of my favorites last year and the audio is just perfect. I can highly recommend Switched in either format, but I’ll say the audio really brings N.R. Walker’s story to life.