Reading/Interest Level: Intermediate
Author: Kristine Asselin & Jen Malone
Hannah Jordan is a huge history buff. Luckily, Hannah receives a daily helping of the past because she lives inside a museum with her caretaker father. The Elms, a mansion-turned-museum, was once the home of the prestigious Berwind family during the 1900s. Hannah’s favorite Berwind story concerns the stolen Mary Cassett portrait of the Berwind’s niece, Maggie Dunlap. While walking the hallways of The Elms one night, Hannah looks in a mirror and sees Maggie’s reflection. When both girls touch the mirror, Hannah and Maggie switch bodies and centuries. With no idea how to switch back, the two girls try to play the part of the other person, but it’s a difficult adjustment. To ease their transitions, Hannah and Maggie work on solving the art heist from their respective time periods. With the help of new friends from the past and present, Hannah and Maggie uncover the real painting without drastically altering time. Both girls are sent back to their own time periods, each with a deep love and respect for one another.
The Art of the Swap is a delightful read full of suspense, fun, and friendship. Asselin and Malone do a great job at creating the awkwardness of being placed into a different time period. But there is a real richness to how both Hannah and Maggie are affected by their time-swapping. Hannah can’t act like her usual boisterous, driven self while transplanted into 1905. She must subdue her personality and passions to coincide with the confining social rules of Maggie’s world. Maggie, on the other hand, receives revelations about the freedoms girls have in Hannah’s world. When Maggie returns to the 1900s, she spends her life advocating foundational freedoms for women. Not only is the book about solving an art heist, it is also about appreciating the freedoms women do have today. One item that would have strengthened the story would be to include floorplans of The Elms in the different centuries to better solidify where Hannah and Maggie spend their time in the book.