Rating: 5 stars out of 5
Israel Ingham’s life has never been easy. He grew up in a house devoid of love and warmth. Nothing he ever did was good enough. The fact Israel is gay just added to the long list of his father’s disappointments.
Then a letter from Eastport Children’s Hospital changes everything.
A discovery is made, one of gross human error. Twenty-six years ago two baby boys were switched at birth and sent home with the wrong families.
Sam, Israel’s best friend, has been his only source of love and support. With Sam beside him every step of the way, Israel decides to meet his birth mother and her son, the man who lived the life Israel should have.
Israel and Sam become closer than ever, amidst the tumultuous emotions of meeting his birth family, and Sam finds himself questioning his feelings toward his best friend. As Israel embraces new possibilities, he needs to dissect his painful relationship with his parents in order to salvage what’s left.
Because sometimes it takes proof you’re not actually family to become one.
Switched is such a deeply moving story, different in some respects from what I expect from this author and yet so similar in the feelings it will pull from the reader that you know you are reading a N.R. Walker story. It hits so close to the heart that it brings up comparisons to my favorites, especially my beloved Red Dirt series.
In Switched we have a superb friends to lovers tale, with Israel Ingram also known as I.I. or Captain and his best friend, Sam. Israel, wealthy, raised by his nannies, gardeners and other staff than by his cold emotionally removed parents has relied on the support and friendship of Sam and his family to supply him with the love and care he so needed and lacked growing up. Sam, not wealthy in money, but in every other way, has been there, watching the cold disapproval and disinterest eat away at Israel, hoping to staunch those wounds made by Israel’s parents with his own love and support.
Immediately we get this turmoil, all this emotional cost and years of abuse that has gone on, through Walker’s descriptive, vivid scenes and believable dialog. It brings us intimately into these peoples lives and keeps us there. Our connections to these characters become tight and our hearts are tied to their futures and happiness.
Then comes the shattering moment when Israel and his family find out that he was switched at birth. And Israel falls apart. As does his world.
To move through this situation that fractures a man, and watch him put himself back together again, with the love and support of Sam, Sam’s family and much more? Its a true joy. It takes such a moment for Israel and Sam to move past friendship into the love that’s been theirs all along. And in the hands of N.R. Walker, you’ll sob, and laugh, and sob some more as Israel struggles to figure out who he is and where he now stands in this new realigned world.
I have to mention all the layers of supporting characters because there are so many. All believable, all so important to this story. From the father who has behaved so cold as to be abusive, the mother equally coldly detached? They too have layers and, while they must answer for those years, not all is black and white. Walker recognizes Israel’s right to be angry over his upbringing and has him seeing a therapist. Again and again in the story, the right choices are made in the narrative, no holes are left, people move forward with their lives while dealing with the past as best they can. Such a remarkable book.
I just loved Switched by N.R. Walker. I recommend it highly as I do its author, N.R. Walker.
Cover art accurately reflects by idea of Israel, I just love it.
Kindle Edition, 269 pages
Published December 25th 2016