I love books that take place in other countries so I was really looking forward to reading Foreign Exchange by Denise Jaden. The international travel didn’t start until later in the book, close to the halfway mark. But it still worked for me because there had to be some time for the romance to slowly develop, and for the mystery aspect of it to piece together. I found myself totally sucked into the story and wondering where the mystery aspect of it would go. Jamie was a pretty great character. She felt pretty real to me and I loved how she cared for her severely disabled brother. I saw her frustration with her mom and brother so well but also felt how much she loved them. And her best friend Tristan. Right away I knew Tristan had to have kept some serious secrets from her, but the mystery is, what is she doing in Europe and is she safe? Jamie and her Tristans brother, Sawyer, are brought closer together with Tristan gone. They can now communicate without Tristan getting jealous. That bit right there just made me not like Tristan at all. I wanted Jamie to discover that Tristan was a total crazy b*tch. But like always, there’s more to the story. I liked how things developed pretty slowly. But at the same time it somehow felt fast. These two have known each other for years but I had to remind myself of that because they really never were able to talk or hang out. So when things started happening it almost felt weird. But later in the book I realized some things and found that it all worked perfectly. I will mention that I liked Sawyer just fine. But I never felt like I fully knew him. Which was weird. I felt like he was in the picture quite a lot. So I think maybe it would have benefited from having his POV in some chapters. But not a big negative. The international travel aspect was really great. It was very fast as they are on the move the whole time with no time to really site see. But the few minutes they were able to stop and breathe and take in the sites, I really felt it. The ending is very intense. I did plenty of inner screaming of ‘No, don’t DO that, use your brain!!!!’ but it was done well. While not all decisions were smart, they were ones I understand a teenage girl would make. There is a very good message here that not everything is safe and especially when you go out of the country without your parents. It was a really great message that I think every teenage girl could use the reminder of. I highly recommend this one! I had a very hard time putting it down!
Jamie Monroe has always played it safe. That is, until her live-for-the-moment best friend, Tristan, jets off to Italy on a student exchange program. Left alone with her part-time mother and her disabled brother, Jamie discovers that she is quite capable of taking her own risks, starting with her best friend’s hotter-than-hot older brother, Sawyer.
Sawyer and Tristan have been neighbors for years, but as Jamie grows closer to the family she thought she knew, she discovers some pretty big secrets—not only from her, but from each other. As she sinks deeper into their web of pretense, she suspects that her best friend may not be on a safe exchange program at all. Jamie sets off to Europe on a class trip with plans to meet up with Tristan, but when Tristan stops all communication, suddenly no one seems trustworthy, least of all the one person she was starting to trust—Sawyer.
14+ due to sexuality, language, adult situations
“Hi,” I say when I find Sawyer at his locker. My face is beaming like someone plugged me into a wall socket.
“Jamie.” He smiles back, but his eyes are rimmed with red like he's really tired. “Have you heard from my sister again?”
Not exactly the topic of conversation I'd hoped for. I nod. “I got another email. She got to Milan fine and is settling in.”
Sawyer pulls out his phone. He looks at me, then at his phone, then back at me again.
“She's...everything's okay with the exchange program?” he asks. His words are tentative.
“Tristan's fine, Sawyer. She says the schoolwork is going to be harder than expected because of not speaking Italian, but otherwise she's great. She loves Europe.” He looks at his phone again. I put my hand out. “Here, you want me to show you the email?”
He hands me his phone. It takes me a minute to figure out how to log in through his browser, but I hope I can put his mind at rest. My email is coming up on the screen when the first bell rings. I have English first class and my teacher's a real stickler about tardiness. I glance down the hall toward my locker.
“You go,” Sawyer says, his palm open for his phone. “I'll look it over and see you in class later. Okay?”
“I—” I’m not sure what to say. Tristan’s been talking about finding my dad in her emails. It’s our big secret and she’d been adamant about not sharing it with anybody. But I think I can trust Sawyer. And, after all, it is my secret to keep. If I’m making a mistake it’ll only hurt me. “Okay,” I say, finally, passing his phone back to him. Our fingers brush against each other, but we don’t have time to let them linger.
By the time I get to English, I'm thinking of another problem. Tristan hadn't wanted me to tell anyone about her modeling over there. I’ll have to tell Sawyer not to mention it.
When I dash into class later, Sawyer’s already seated in his usual seat with his head down. He's flipping through something on his phone, and again I think about signing him into my email earlier. Instead of feeling nervous, after having some time to think about it, trusting him makes me feel closer to him. Like we share our private emails with each other all the time.
“Hey.” I sit down beside him.
He finishes typing something, and then shoves his phone away before Mr. Echols catches sight of it. “Hey,” he says finally, smiling over at me. He still looks really tired.
“Everything okay?” I ask.
He blinks a few times, looking down, and I wonder if he isn't okay. Is something really wrong? “Do you...” he trails off and seems to rethink what he's saying. “Do you think with the program... do you think everything's okay about that? I don't know what's going on, but maybe...I mean, I think maybe Tristan’s over there trying to model.”
I swallow hard. This is the moment of truth, where I have to decide how much I can trust him.
But his pause is barely long enough for me to open my mouth. “I need to get on that class trip, Jamie. I need to stop my sister from doing anything stupid.”
A host of emotions rush through me. Fear, anger, betrayal.
“Wait, what?” I ask him. “You're going to try to get on the class trip so you can interfere with Tristan's dream?” Tristan’s told me how jealous he can be. How he’s done this before.
Sawyer looks over at me with wide eyes, like he can't believe I'm calling him out on it.
Mr. Echols interrupts us, starting class, but I'm too upset to pay attention to a single word he's saying.
Sawyer passes me a note halfway through class.
I’m seriously worried about my sister, Jamie. I have to tell you more about the program. Just hear me out. Please?
I keep my eyes from Sawyer for the rest of class. I'm sure he knows I'm angry, but he doesn't try to talk to me again, at least for now. I'm even angry at myself for getting so caught up in my feelings for him and not noticing all the things that Tristan's warned me about.
Jamie has a lot on her shoulders. She lives with a single mother and takes care of her disabled brother. She seems to be in the shadow of her wildly beautiful, model-wannabe best friend, Tristan. This friend has a good-looking brother, Sawyer, who is Jamie’s crush. Jamie is full of longing—for romance, excitement, and a familial bond with her father. When Tristan goes to Europe to go into modeling, that seems like a good time for Jamie to do so as well—for a class trip, to see her long-lost father, and to meet up with Tristan. In Europe, things seem to spiral out of control. I don’t want to reveal too much, but it gets intensely dangerous for Jamie and company. The suspense, romance, and deep characters make this a wonderful page-turner.
Probably my favourite thing about this book is the characters and how they interacted. I thought Denise Jaden did a good job of creating layered characters who had shades of grey to them, just like real people. Our main character is Jamie, an all around girl next door type. However Jamie has had a pretty tough life, having to look after her little brother constantly and having a mom who doesn’t make it easy on her. The secondary characters in Foreign Exchange were also very interesting. I liked that Sawyer had hidden depths and he wasn't what people thought he was. There’s this idea we have, both in fiction and real life, that if you're a Popular Beautiful Person then you must automatically be a completely horrible person too. Of course this isn’t true, and this stereotype is completely proven false by his character. Tristan, Jamie’s best friend and Sawyer’s sister, is definitely capital-T Trouble. She’s a total control freak and is seemingly a compulsive liar, something which Jamie is just figuring out. Things are never what you think they are with Tristan, and it makes for an interesting mystery to unravel. This book has a lot of good elements, but I think what I enjoyed most was seeing Jamie coming into her own and out of Tristan's shadow, making her own decisions and getting away from that toxic friendship. Jamie does make some pretty sketchy decisions, but I didn’t find them entirely unbelievable. I could see someone who's a little desperate and naive going along that same path. On the romance side of things, I definitely dug Jamie/Sawyer. Romance isn’t the primary focus of the story, but it does make up a nice part of it. I liked seeing these two truly get to know one another. Overall I definitely liked this book. I didn’t completely fall into the story, but it did provide an enjoyable reading experience, and I’d recommend it.
Foreign Exchange, by Denise Jaden, is an unexpected twist on teen romance. Don’t get me wrong—lovers of the genre will find all they want of that in this book. But there’s more here, too, a startling parable without the preaching, a cautionary tale that is story-driven, not sermonized. Jamie Monroe is a teenager with more than a kid’s fair share of responsibility. A multi-lingual would-be world traveler, she’s mired in drudgery in her less-than-ideal home life in suburban Michigan. With no father at home and her disgruntled single mother working late most nights, it falls to Jamie to be the caregiver for her severely disabled little brother, Eddy. Though she loves him, she yearns for something better for herself, and it is with no small degree of jealousy that she bids farewell to her best friend, Tristan, to a foreign exchange program that will, for the moment, leave her behind. But Jamie and Tristan have a plan. A reckless, dangerous plan that the reader knows will go terribly wrong before it ultimately does—and yet the suspense builds, even as the inevitable outcome edges us further and further down the road of bad decisions and their consequences. Because Jamie is going overseas, too—on a class trip that she plans to abandon, all in the hopes of re-uniting with Tristan and, ultimately, a father she has not seen in ten years. Taking the journey with her will be Tristan’s “playboy” brother, a surprisingly vulnerable character the reader will love as much as Jamie comes to love him … all against Tristan’s wishes and advice. Don’t worry. I haven’t blown anything for you, O Reader. That’s all relatively early in the book. What comes after, especially in its breathtaking final act, transforms a story of family conflict (and, even more, conflicted young love) into a whirlwind thriller. Along with a lot of Barcelona and Spain, the reader is plunged into a dark, seedy underworld of ruthless, bottom-feeding human parasites who promise fame with one hand, holding misery and worse in the other behind their backs. There’ll come a time when you want to close the book. But you won’t. And in the end, you’ll be glad you didn’t. Foreign Exchange is an excellent novel of friendship, family, and love—a story of victims and heroes, with the same character often alternating as both. It’s a fantastic read!
A refreshing book of friendship and love. This is the first book I have read by Denise Jaden and I plan to read many more. Jamie and Tristan grew up being neighbors and best friends. Tristan also had a hot brother names Sawyer who Jamie has had a crush on. upon getting ready to go on a trip to Europe with her school Jamie discovers her father will be in Malin and Tristan just so happens to be going their as well to pursue her Modeling career.Things become intense with Sawyer and Tristan gets worried about the trip. This book will have you turning the pages faster and faster and taking you on a roller coaster of a ride once Jamie hits Europe. Will Jamie finally get to see her father? Will Tristan become a high fashion model? Will Sawyer confess his feelings to Jamie. Be sure to check this book out.
Foreign Exchange is the perfect mix of romance and drama that I enjoy in a contemporary YA.
Foreign Exchange is about the power of friendship and love. Jamie Monroe is the "girl next door" who's biggest accomplishment is having an uber-beautiful best friend, Tristen, who also happens to have a hot older brother, Sawyer (see where this is going?). But when Tristen tricks her parents into letting her go to Europe, where she's going to break into a career in high-fashion modeling, Jamie and Sawyer smell a rat and take off across Europe to track down the wayward teen. But let's not forget Jamie and Sawyer. Can't have a good YA without a little romance. Sawyer is the hottest guy in school, way out of Jamie's reach...or so she thinks. Sawyer, a man after my own heart, knows a good thing when he sees it (or lives next door to it). I've read previous books by this author (all great!), and she changes up things with this one. The end of the book is full of great suspense that will have you staying up wayyy past your bedtime to finish it (disclaimer: I'm a wimp and my bedtime is 10pm...beauty demands sacrifice). Jaden't writing is fantastic and the story flows well.
Foreign Exchange is a fresh contemporary YA that will keep readers compulsively turning pages until the very end. Combining international intrigue with a steamy forbidden romance makes for a can’t miss read.
A pitch perfect voice and delicious chemistry between the characters kept me turning those pages!
Foreign Exchange is heart pounding and suspenseful...the teenage dream of escaping the boredom of suburbia by travelling Europe and spending quality time with a hot guy shifts into a dangerous nightmare.
I loved the well-drawn relationships in Foreign Exchange –the tension between Jamie and her mother, Jamie’s tenderness with disabled brother Eddy and especially the intense chemistry between Jamie and Sawyer. Their off-limits attraction and the increasingly dangerous hunt for his sister had me racing through the final chapters.
Foreign Exchange takes you on a thrilling ride through the exotic streets of Europe into the dark side of the fashion world. Jamie will stop at nothing to save her best friend Tristan who has gone missing. A sweet dose of romance with Tristan's do-not-touch brother, keeps it light.
I’m a big fan of Denise Jaden and was so honored when she asked me to beta read her latest YA a while back. I’m even more honored now to have read the published novel and be able share my thoughts with you all! Foreign Exchange is a YA contemp/mystery with a European road trip mixed in that creates a very compelling and interesting story. It begins with Jamie’s best friend Tristan heading off to Italy for an exchange program, leaving Jamie alone with Tristan’s off-limits but hot brother, Sawyer. Tristan has made it clear throughout her and Jamie’s friendship that Sawyer is a player and she doesn’t want Jamie falling for him…but of course, she does. With Tristan gone, the two can now start exploring a relationship that has the potential to turn into something else. Only now Tristan has gone MIA and Jamie and Sawyer embark on a trip of their own to find Tristan and bring her back. I’m a sucker for a book set in different locations around the world (especially Europe) so I loved that aspect of Foreign Exchange. The story includes Michigan, Canada, Rome, Venice, and Barcelona, and you get to see a bit of culture from each place. Not only are the settings vibrant, but the main character speaks a bunch of different languages–gotta love an intelligent girl! I also loved how the book showcased different relationships: Jamie and her special needs brother, Jamie and her absentee mom, Jamie and Tristan’s sometimes toxic friendship, and Jamie and Sawyer’s newfound love. It really makes you think about your own relationships and how the good relationships can outweigh the bad ones. My favorite was watching Jamie and Sawyer bond over their common interest in finding Tristan and seeing their emotions that had been buried for years come to life. And I won’t spoil the ending, but I will say I thoroughly enjoyed how it played out.