Once again, I’m one of the last ones to jump on the Courtney Milan bandwagon. Last year, Milan was an author I had never heard of, writing books in a genre that I knew nothing about. And then I followed the advice of my fellow Cannonballers and read her Brothers Sinister series — and I really liked them. Milan was a good writer who really appreciated history and strong women.
This year, the buzz was all about Milan’s entry into the contemporary, New Adult genre, and her first book in a proposed trilogy, Trade Me.
Trade Me is about Blake, a billionaire tech programmer who is soon slated to inherit his dad’s enormous company (bigger and better than Apple!). Blake is brilliant when it comes to technology, but not so savvy when it comes to managing his own life. He isn’t looking forward to taking over the greatest company in the world, and of course, he just might have a frightening secret.
Tina goes to school with Blake, but lives in an entirely different world. She and her roommate rent out a tiny, converted garage (no heat and even worse electricity!) miles from campus. Its all they can afford. Tina works part-time jobs and sends every spare cent home to her family. Tina shops at Goodwill, uses an ancient laptop computer, and eats a lot of rice — there are a lot of meals in a big bag of rice!
After Blake and Tina have a confrontation about poverty in one of their seminars, Tina tells him that he has no idea how hard her life is. He doesn’t understand what it means to be on an income, or how to stretch a dollar. Blake has known nothing but privilege his entire life, and jokingly, Tina bets him that he couldn’t last a month living her life.
And of course, because reasons, Blake takes her up on the bet. Tina moves into his luxurious San Francisco mansion. Blake moves into the garage. Tina drives the Tesla, while Blake gets a job stacking boxes in a store room.
And yes, sparks fly. But Tina is afraid of being hurt and Blake is afraid of letting Tina get to know the real him, so theirs is a bumpy road.
I liked Tina a Blake a lot and was rooting for them to work all of their shit out. Because they really had a lot of it. They both brought a lot of family baggage to the table, and it was nice to see them help each other navigate through some of the more difficult situations. I especially liked how Blake and Tina related to each others’ dads.
My only complaint was that I really never bought into the whole “trading lives” thing. When Blake was spelling out the terms of their agreement to Tina over their pho lunch, I really couldn’t get over the ridiculousness of what I was reading. And really, it just made me hungry for pho.
But ridiculous life swap aside, I enjoyed it. I like Milan’s breezy writing style, and her conversations and characters are realistic and easy to like (no, this book didn’t have puppy cannons, but it did have a tentacle store. So there’s that.). While I still prefer Milan’s historical novels, I look forward to reading the second book in the series, supposedly featuring Tina’s roommate Maria.
And finally, I did promise emmalita that I’d try and do some Wentworthing in my future reviews. So, you know, here you go.