Book Review: ‘The Holiday Switch’ by Tif Marcelo

If you’re looking for another entry to add to your holiday reading list, to revisit year after year, consider The Holiday Switch! A sweet, YA romance, it has so many book tropes book lovers have come to love, as well as lovable characters and a poignant message about family, friends, and the true meaning of the Christmas season.

The Holiday Switch introduces readers to Lila Santos, a studious, high-achieving high schooler working at the local inn in her small, Christmas-themed town of Holly, New York. She runs an undercover book blog since her parents are incredibly protective of their children’s’ internet access. When she begins working with the inn owner’s nephew, Teddy, she has to work with someone with a polar opposite personality who she somehow just can’t seem to get over. When they accidentally switch phones, chaos ensues. 

Writing a YA romance is a unique challenge, and yet author Tif Marcelo is clearly one of the best in the business. Making use of all the best romance tropes including necessary proximity, opposites attract, and enemies to lovers, she never loses sight of the fact that her main characters are two young adults. She brilliantly captures both the awkwardness and the excitement of this critical moment of transition, and fully realizes both of the book’s leads as they figure out who they truly are. Watching Lila and Teddy come into their own while having a cute Christmas-themed romance in the span of the holiday season. 

The purity of the Christmas content in The Holiday Switch cannot be overemphasized. Having a town based on an imaginary movie made in the 1990s, Holiday by the Lake. Having an entire town as a dedicated fan base was a stroke of genius and so many holiday movies deserve this treatment. Lila and her friends’ list of all of the holiday related excursions was inspiring. Kissing on a pier, going ice skating, and taking a picture with Santa are classic Christmas outings not to be missed. Eating apple cider donuts, eating deep-fried marshmallows and drinking hot chocolate are sure to inspire any reader to immediately prepare these wares in the spirit of the holiday season

Marcelo also clearly understands the experience of blogging. Through the eyes of a teenager, both the frustrations and joys of writing out thoughts for the internet are brought to the pages in Lila’s holiday book review blog, Tinsel and Tropes. Writing ultimately takes so much courage, to manifest thoughts and feelings for the world to read. The small victories and support mean so much to writers. Lila’s parents’ mistrust of the internet is so understandable, when personal information of anyone and everyone is accessible with a few clicks. The balance between wanting to share and develop thoughts and ideas in an online forum with the very real threat the internet poses is one that is true to life, and that so many writers can no doubt relate to.

2021 has been a bumper year for older siblings, and we have seen ourselves represented in such amazing stories as Encanto and Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings. The Holiday Switch is another example of a story centered around the unique experience of being an eldest sibling. In this story, Lila has the unique privilege and responsibility of being an ate. It added such a depth to the story to tell the uniquely Filipino-American take on this universal story of the additional responsibilities and opportunities that older siblings have in paving the way for their younger siblings.

The cultural diversity that is woven into this story is so organic and a testament to the fact that everyone has a place during the holiday season. Lila made such a commendable effort to include other holidays by reviewing in-world books like Menorah Mayhem and the rest of the Hanukkah Hijinks series. This series sounds amazing, and hopefully an aspiring author looking to include more holidays. Christmas isn’t the only holiday celebrated during the winter season, and Hanukkah definitely could use more cute holiday mystery books and romantic comedies.

The Holiday Switch is a perfectly delightful holiday and YA read that can be re-read again and again every holiday season. It’s message about family, friendships, and love is one that we could always be reminded of.  This book is the best of what readers want in a holiday read, a sweet story, relatable characters and the perfect amount of holiday cheer to brighten the dark winter nights this time of year brings.

The Holiday Switch is available now.

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