Book Reviews

The Holiday Switch by Tif Marcelo – Book Review

The Holiday Switch by Tif Marcelo - Book Cover

Warning – possible spoilers! (Tiny ones, though, and I’ll try to avoid even those; I swear I’ll give my best not to ruin it for you… :-))

The Holiday Switch by Tif Marcelo – Book Details

TITLE – The Holiday Switch

AUTHOR – Tif Marcelo

CATEGORY/GENREromance, young adult, Christmas



MY RATING – 3.5 of 5


What It Is About

When you work in a gift shop that caters to the holidays, and live in a town that starts its holiday decorating in September and holds out until almost February, it’s easy to dismiss the sound of jingle bells.

Lila Castro needs money to get into the school of her dreams without putting too much strain on her parent’s budget. She was hoping to spend her last winter break of high school working at the local gift shop. But the sudden visit by the shop’s owner’s nephew Teddy threatens to completely ruin her plans.

Forced to work together, Lila and Teddy often clash heads. But when they accidentally switch phones during a shift, they both realize the other one is hiding a secret.

Reveling them has a potential to prevent both of them from following their dreams. But there’s nothing that can bring two teenagers closer than keeping secrets together.

The Holiday Switch by Tif Marcelo – My Review

Sometimes it takes a snowstorm to bring two people together, but sometimes it takes one person – and someone you least expect – to help save the day.

The Holiday Switch by Tif Marcelo was one of my several holiday reads this year. The adorable cover, the fact that it sounded like a more or less chill YA romance, as well as the fact that it wasn’t too long all played a part in me picking it up.

And though I had a bit mixed feelings about certain parts, overall I enjoyed it a lot. I was all in for just a sweet, festive YA romance with a really nice backdrop and enemies-to-lovers, forced proximity and coming of age tropes.

The setting was adorable. Lila lives in a very festive little town in Upstate New York that happened to be a setting for a very famous movie once and still gets crowded by the fans.

And it’s not just for Christmas and New Year’s. Holly’s holiday decor is up half the year, only to be replaced by Valentine’s Day, Easter, Independence Day, and fall themes.

She occasionally works at the Bookwork Inn’s gift shop, which is also very cozy and holidays-appropriate.

There’s even this bucket list of all the wintry activities to do while staying in one of the most Christmassy towns, that visitors like to follow. And this year, Lila and her friends are also on the mission to cross as many items from the list as possible.

So yup – cozy vibes all around.

All in all, I really liked Lila as a protagonist. She is a type-A overachiever. Occasionally intimidating, but also sweet and genuine and someone you can respect.

“I want to do the right thing, but sometimes I don’t know what that is. So it’s not just me who assumes. It’s you too.”

Lila is a Filipino-American, the oldest of four, and her parents often rely on her to help around. She is family oriented, hardworking, passionate and driven. Just a high school girl doing her best, trying to make a life for herself. In several ways I wish I was more like her.

But, Lila also has a secret. She is a huge book lover and a holiday book blogger. Which on its own made her quite relatable to me. We even got to read several of her book reviews, and honestly – I liked them quite a bit.

Because books. Books are an escape. Books are a reminder that opposites can exist at the same time, both good and bad, positive and negative.

But, why is that a secret, you ask. Well, her parents are very strict when it comes to the internet and how much their children are allowed to use it.

Which – it did seem a bit over the top. I mean, being a book blogger is all in all fairly innocent. And in this day and age, staying away from the internet is practically barely achievable.

However, in this case I could understand where they were coming from and how what they’ve been through can truly change the way you see things. So, you know. I can’t say I could completely relate, but at least it wasn’t bugging me too much.

The fact is – I loved Lila’s family so much! They were so loving and caring and full of understanding and mutual respect. Spending Christmas in that house seemed like a pure joy.

“Aw, Ate. I don’t think anyone knows what they’re doing, but I think you might know what the next step is.”

To be honest, I don’t know much about Filipino culture, so I can’t tell if it was well represented. However, those parts seemed very authentic to me, and it felt good to dip toes into it all – relationships full of love, integrity and respect, as well as many holiday and family traditions.

Of course, a huge point of the plot was the romance. And it was the only part I didn’t like how it was done. Like many other enemies-to-lovers romances I’ve read, the ‘enemies’ part could have been handled much better.

“Is this motivation I detect? What have you done with the Teddy Rivera we know and don’t love?”

I didn’t like Lila’s attitude towards the guy. She seemed very frustrated and annoyed by him, and with absolutely no good reason.

Well – let me rewind that.

He’s about to take a good portion of a job she needs to pay for the scholarship, so – you know. I mean, you can see where the animosity is coming from.

I also got into my second-choice (and less expensive) school; more schools are pending. I have options. But to be this close, to have worked so hard for something and then lose it because of money? I hate it.

It’s just – it’s not only that she took it personally. Which she did, and was wrong about, but is something I can understand. But she just took it all a notch too far for her feelings about the whole situation to be believable.

She got all worked up, thinking how he was a jerk, and how she hated working with him. But, and don’t quote me on this because I honestly don’t remember and I can’t be bothered to reread those parts… But I don’t remember him being that rude. At all.

I mean, I get that, when you are used to doing things a certain way and then someone suddenly wants to change everything (for the better, I might add), sooner or later you’ll get the urge to smack them in the face.

Even with that… I mean, as a firstborn myself – trust me, there’s no way a few fairly innocent questions and decisions could put me at the edge of my nerves.

At least once the drama sizzled down and they moved more towards playful banter and flirting, I enjoyed the book much more. And we got a few very sweet moments.

“Nothing, just that you’re so…” I wave my fork around and try to work out the description in my head. What’s a good description for Teddy that won’t insult him? “…whatever.”

So, the bottom line. Would I recommend this book? I guess that depends on what are you expecting to get. For the most part, The Holiday Switch was exactly what I expected it to be from the cover.

It wasn’t perfect. That enemies-to-lovers was really bugging me, but it was also my only real complaint. Except – well, even without it, the story wasn’t anything special. I mean – nothing we haven’t seen before.

But it wasn’t bad either. It was sweet and charming and Christmassy and fun and easy to fly through. And hey – sometimes that’s all you need for a really good holiday read.

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