Title: It’s Not You, It’s Me
Author: Gabrielle Williams
Genre: Time slip, historical fiction
Publisher: Allen and Unwin
Published: 31st August 2021
Synopsis: A literally life-changing novel about time travel, soulmates and serial killers that asks a very big question: Can you ever change your fate? This is award-winning YA author Gabrielle Williams’ most surprising, ambitious and dexterous book yet.
Holly Fitzgerald has inexplicably woken up inside the body of an LA teenager called Trinity Byrne in 1980 – trapping Trinity in Holly’s forty-year-old body back in Melbourne, 2020.
Mind. Officially. Blown.
Holly finds herself navigating a brand-new body, family and cute boy next door – not to mention rock band that might just make it, and potential kidnapper. Meanwhile, lies intersect with truth, hurtling both Holly and Trinity towards a dangerous fate as the connections between them grow deeper and stranger than either could have ever imagined.
Freaky Friday meets Pretty Little Liars – if the Liars were an all-girl punk band from the 1980s – in this highly original soul-swap story from the critically acclaimed author of My Life as a Hashtag.
Holly – forty years old and living in Melbourne on the precipice of the COVID-19 pandemic – wakes up on the footpath with neighbour, Lewis standing over her. She finds out she’s in the body of sixteen-year-old Trinity Byrne in L.A. But why? Why have they swapped bodies? Is it mere coincidence that they’ve swapped bodies at the exact time on the same day – the 29th of February in 1980 and 2020 – the birthday they both share? Or is there another reason that they’ve swapped bodies? As Holly navigates a 1980, the year she was born, and the struggles of school, her band, a separated family, and whispers about a serial killer, she discovers that she is there to help herself and Trinity – but how, and why? As Holly starts to find herself absorbing Trinity’s life and filling her shoes, she still feels a connection to her 2020 self. Yet there’s something that connects her with Trinity back in Melbourne – a typewriter called Brother Orange. As their lives begin to intersect, Holly discovers news about a serial killer in the area – and slowly, she works out why she’s there. Can she save herself and Trinity in 1980? Or will they be stuck as they are forever?
This is the first Gabrielle Williams novel I have written, and it explores the idea of fate and what she calls the Day of Resetting – the 29th of February, which rolls around every four years. How can two girls – born so many years apart – be so interconnected and why? The story takes place in 1980, through Holly’s eyes but in Trinity’s body – and the implications of seeing yourself at a different point in your life, and the changes you make in another life – the idea that the fluttering of a butterfly’s wings in one place can cause an earthquake in another location. This exhilarating story has it all – a serial killer, a rock band, teen angst, displacement, and coming together, amongst many other things, and I loved reading a young adult book that focused on the self, on the family and on friendships – where the goal wasn’t romance. It was refreshing, and as much as I love to see a couple get together because of the story, it is nice when it isn’t always the goal, and helps to show a diversity of experiences and lives lived as well as people and their backgrounds in literature. I look forward to reading books like this where romance isn’t the be all and end all the book, where it is a story about self-discovery and growth separate from romance. I think this makes it more powerful and more relatable for readers yet to experience romance, especially for younger readers.
I always look forward to books that allow relationships between family and friends to shine through ahead of romantic plots, as it shows that these are just as important to the character and what makes us who we are and are perhaps even more important to show at times. I thoroughly enjoyed this book, and the world it evoked, as well as showing the contrast between 1980 and 2020, what a world free of a pandemic and social media, and constant online connection is like. It was beautiful rendered and will become one of those books many people enjoy.