(That probably doesn't sound like a big deal, but it's been one of my public library repeat reads since I was a kid; it was like an every three years ritual for me.) Do I still love this book now? I'm not sure if it's my favorite, but it's a good representation of the heroine, Laura Chant, and her ally, Sorry (Sorenson Carlisle) as she makes an object of power under the supervision of the witch Winter (Sorry's mother): "Stamp, your name is to be Laura. we'll crush him between our smiles." She looked up at the reflected witches and said nervously, "Is that enough?" "Quite enough," Winter said, and behind the fine lace of her age, Laura saw a reflection of Sorry's wariness.
From the perfectly described details of Laura Chant's everyday family life to her charmingly atypical romantic suitor to the threat of a truly sinister villain, The Changeover is a terrific coming-of-age story with a paranormal twist. For a novel written twenty-six years ago, this book does not feel dated, and it quickly found its way onto my favorites shelf to be read again and again. I've enjoyed a lot of 'broken boy' romantic heroes in various books over the years, but Sorry jumps off the page as completely unique. I was thoroughly impressed by the way Margaret Mahy brought him to life with such an original voice, and I loved Sorry for his unfiltered honesty and his oddities. As much as I adored Sorry for his flaws, I loved Laura even more for consistently calling him out on them! I don't mean to imply that I dislike sigh-worthy, epically romantic love scenes in books. However, the romantic elements of The Changeover are memorable and hopeful (in a very realistic way), so perhaps readers won't feel misled by the subtitle after all. I would highly recommend this book to all readers, and I would particularly recommend it to anyone who enjoys paranormal, fantasy, or urban fantasy novels set in a realistic, non-fantastical world. Fans of Richard Peck's Blossom Culp books may like the way Margaret Mahy mixes magic with the common, no-frills world of an intelligent teenage girl. I was surprised and pleased by how much I loved this book, and I will be bumping Margaret Mahy's other novels up several notches on my "To-read" list because I enjoyed The Changeover so much.
There is plenty of the supernatural in The Changeover, but as Sorry Carlisle says of himself at one point, sometimes "super-natural" means especially natural (rather than outside it).
Maybe because its "voice" was non patronizing and dealt with issues often not discussed in YA lit at the time, like child abuse,personal transformation, and all the hormonal confusion that comes with emerging sexuality for adolescents.
Jacko then becomes increasingly ill and only Laura knows that Jacko is being possessed by Carmody Braque. Laura feels that she has no choice but to go to Sorensen "Sorry" Carlisle, the seemingly harmless seventh-form prefect at her school, for help because she knows that he's really a witch. The subtitle of this book is A Supernatural Romance so give me a moment to dwell on Sorry and Laura. He reads romance novels and is confused when his dealings with Laura don't go according to those books. I tweeted her to let her know that I was reading The Changeover based on her recommendation. This was her tweet after that: @sarahreesbrenna If I ever write a romance like Gen/Attolia Howl/Sophie & Sorry/Laura I'll die happy even if my last words=Lots of alligators in this hatbox I hope you do write something like that, Sarah!
(Sorry is a great character in his own right, as is everyone here--they all feel totally fleshed out and realistic, even though the book is short and quite focused.) I think if I'd read this when I was Laura's age it would have been a revelation to me.
The Changeover is a short book, nevertheless a good one. Sorry (short for Sorenson) is another thing I really like about this book. One peculiar thing that occurs in this book is Laura telling her mother these supernatural feelings.
Margaret Mahy was a well-known New Zealand author of children's and young adult books. The Margaret Mahy Medal Award was established by the New Zealand Children's Book Foundation in 1991 to provide recognition of excellence in children's literature, publishing and literacy in New Zealand.