So, I’ve finished reading the book and the review is done! It’s a little too long (maybe) but feel free to read it if you like. Here it is:
Switched at Birth: My Life in Someone Else’s World is a short non-fictional autobiographical novel; in other words, a memoir written by Frederick J.George. It contains 204 pages. As the title depicts, it tells the story of two boys who were switched at birth, or as the author sometimes put it, “given to the wrong family”. This switch changes their lives or their ‘supposed’ lives in so many aspects such as religion, ethnicity, social status, cultural traditions and beliefs. However, the paths of these two boys inexplicably cross a multiple number of times until at 57, they figure that they were switched at birth. This memoir is great as both its content and the author’s insights are very interesting. However, considering the fact that it is a non-fictional book and therefore, doesn’t have that much tension or conflict (instead, its somebody’s life told from their perspective), some of his memories and family history can get a little boring to read.
Throughout the book, the author takes us on his journey of life. A journey that is full of doubts, ironic coincidences, experiences, growth, the feeling of not belonging and being different, but most importantly he shows us the essence of life itself; more concretely, his life. Throughout this memoir, we encounter several ‘themes’ amongst them would be violence, cars, jobs, rugby, and of course, family itself. At the beginning, he tells us a little bit of both of his families’ backgrounds- his biological family and the family that brought him up-. In my opinion, this really discouraged me from reading it. I felt that it was too factual and ‘plain’. I also felt that he gave unnecessary details to the reader like history about places where his great grandparents were from. However, I understand that it is a memoir and so, the author is free to express as many things from his life or related to it as he wishes to. In my opinion, the book got better as I read on. After some of the chapters he writes about his ancestors and routes, he starts writing about how his switch’s and his paths cross and simply, about his life. The series of events is generally chronological but the author sometimes sets a tone in which you’d think he’s talking to you, and so he takes the freedom to relate past events to the one he’d be writing about. This is good though. I didn’t lose the sense of time in his life and I understood the connection between different parts of his life, which ultimately led to him. The idea of this book is fantastic and so is the approach. Why not talk about your own life when you have so much to say? Anyhow, this book had some good aspects but I also found some bad ones.
Let’s start with the bad first. As I was reading, I encountered some grammatical errors, which disturbed my reading. For example, a very common one was the use of the word “there” instead of “their”, or the use of the word “were” in place of “where, and vice versa. There weren’t that many really and it’s not like I’m a grammar Nazi. It’s simply that I had to stop, look back and understand what the sentence really wanted to say. This stopped the ‘flow’ of my reading and so; I had to get the right pace again. Also I said earlier, I don’t particularly enjoy the importance he gives to ancestors he hasn’t even met himself. It’s a little useless to the reader and boring to read. Something else that I encountered –this is definitely not the author’s fault- was the layout of the eBook on my kindle. I’m guessing it was the file conversion that made this happen. I don’t know if it’s the same for other electronic reading devices, but on a kindle, the pictures and the text weren’t where they were supposed to be. This layout issue isn’t that bad though. You can still read the book without any difficulties. So if you have a kindle and want to read this book, don’t let that stop you.
Now, moving onto positives. To be honest, the positives outnumber and outweigh the negatives by far. The author has impressive insights and thoughts as well as a definite writing voice. The memories he writes about are generally interesting and entertaining to read. On top of that, now that I look back, even if the series of events is chronological, the author finds his way around that to avoid revealing how he finds out about the switch. He only reveals this at the end of the book, which I find extremely practical to keep the readers interested. I also really like how the author makes a clear distinction of the two families and their personality traits. The author successfully links this experience to a global significance as a conclusion. This works extremely well.
In conclusion, this memoir- like any other- teaches us about someone else’s life. So if you’re somebody who enjoys reading memoirs like me, then I highly recommend you reading this book. It will be highly beneficial to you as an individual. Even if you’re not a ‘memoir person’, you should definitely give this book a try. Even if there are some cons to it, as I briefly explained, it’s well structured and has great ideas and thoughts behind it.