The Substitute by Denise Grover Swank is the first novel that I have ever read on an e-reader, and I have to say that, despite the new medium and the adjustments that I had to make in my own reading style, I thoroughly enjoyed it! If anything, I never would have had the chance to read this lovely little novel if it wasn’t for my new Kobo, because I actually found it for free on the Kobo website and thought it would be the perfect first e-book for me to delve into. I am so glad that I downloaded it and gave it a chance, and I would recommend it to a very particular type of reader…but more about that in a moment…
I feel that a quick, light and breezy review is most appropriate for this novel, as it is all of those things. The Substitute, I must be honest, isn’t a work of great literary fiction – it is simple and predictable. But, regardless of the fact that I saw all the “twists” coming and had read similar stories, and even similar phrases and passages, before, I still couldn’t get enough of The Substitute. The story was so light and fun that it became totally addictive for me, and I powered through it over my lunch breaks and morning and evening commutes. The “pages” of my Kobo couldn’t refresh fast enough! The experience of reading The Substitute felt, for me, like that year in elementary school when I first discovered chapter books and became obsessed with reading. Perhaps this is down to the fact that I was reading for the first time on a Kobo, and so the whole activity of reading felt very new to me – but, in any case, reading The Substitute and being so eager to get back into the story as often as I could sneak a break reminded me of those recesses in grade school when I would sit on the hard pavement with my chapter book in hand. I spent a lot of my time, both during school hours and home hours, reading in my young life, and these past few days of mine, immersed in The Substitute and loving every minute of my immersion, brought me back to the days when I discovered the joys of reading for the very first time.
It’s pretty obvious, then, that The Substitute made me very happy while I read it. It most certainly isn’t the book for everyone, and I know many fellow readers who wouldn’t get past a single chapter. It is not only simple, but also simplistic, written in a fast-paced style that tells a lot more than it shows. There is a lot of summary in it, of both feelings and events, and issues are resolved mega-quickly. This would frustrate many readers, and it is the sort of thing that frustrates me about certain books too. But, for some reason, I couldn’t be frustrated with The Substitute because it was too fun a book to be mad at. It was exactly like one of those Hallmark movies that are so enjoyable, even if they are unrealistic. I knew exactly how the story would end (happily, spoiler alert!) and I knew that much of it would be far-fetched and unbelievable, but I really didn’t care. I loved the ride, I got swept up in the romance, and it made me so eager for my own wedding later this year. It was, quite simply, a feel-good read, and that was just what I needed!
I also must say that I was surprised by how much I liked the two main characters, Megan and Josh. Sure, there isn’t a lot to them, and they are about as developed as the main characters in those Hallmark movies I mentioned, but that was precisely what I was expecting from this novel, and I chose to read it with that in mind. It delivered on my expectations, and Megan and Josh were so adorable and endearing and straightforward, that I found myself latching onto and becoming attached to them.
As if all that doesn’t recommend it enough as a perfect holiday read, The Substitute reminded me very much of one of my favourite movies of all time, The Wedding Date. Again, this movie isn’t earth-shattering or groundbreaking, but it is so addictive in that it just makes you feel warm and fuzzy inside. Some of the quotes and moments are so truly romantic, and I actually think one quote in particular from The Wedding Date summarizes the whole premise of The Substitute perfectly…
If you’re a fan of fast and fun romances, then The Substitute is the book for you! It’s a truly entertaining love story fueled by fate and chance, and if you want to smile constantly while reading, it won’t disappoint!
❥❥❥ (out of 5)
Girl with a Green Heart