Switch by A.S. King

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Stuck in a fold in time and space, the world has stopped. Or more correctly time has stopped. The predictable answer to that is to create apps that tell you what the time should normally be and for life to go on as usual. For Tru, it is not that easy; her world has imploded. Her mother has left, her father is building large wooden safety boxes within their house, boxes that are turning the whole place into a warren, her brother has a guilty secret, and her sister, who has also left, remains a malevolent force that impacts all their lives.

It sounds like some strange kind of future world, trying to solve the problem of time coming to a stop. The response seems to be directed to recreating the time that people are used to. School students are given the challenge to come up with a solution. For Tru, the solution has to be found in psychology. It has to be something to do with ‘giving a shit about people’.

It sounds confusing and chaotic and it is, and gets increasingly more chaotic.  The writing style offers sentences full of slashed alternative options, actually alternative interpretations. It is a clever technique that makes us realise that there are more than one way to seeing things, or of understanding things. And while this is disorienting at first, I’d encourage readers to persevere, the threads do start to come together. We begin to understand that Tru’s family situation is highly dysfunctional. Tru is really struggling. Her study of psychology is her attempt to find a solution to the situation she is in. With her project team she explores Robert Plutchik's Wheel of Emotion.

The N3wclock website created by A. S. King presents the Wheel of Emotion to help people to work through their fear, and is aimed at suicide prevention. In Switch when Tru encounters another young girl struggling with suicidal thoughts, it is this strategy she uses to help her. She encourages Jennifer to keep flying, make the switch and overcome fear.

This is an extraordinary book, complex in the psychological issues it explores, tapping into themes of abuse, paranoia, intimidation, guilt, and fear. It is not an easy read, it takes some perseverance, but the puzzle at its heart is engaging and takes us down an interesting path exploring ways to cope with confronting life challenges. The message is to switch, find yourself, free yourself from time demands, do what you really want to do, and become the person you were really meant to be.

Themes: Time, Psychology, Emotional disorder, Nervous breakdown, Dysfunction, Fear.

Helen Eddy