In Trading Faces (link to Amazon), Payton and Emma Mills are identical twins with way different personalities: Payton is the fashionista who slaved the summer away so she could have trendsetting clothes for middle school, and Emma is the brainiac in honors classes with a full trophy case. For Payton, seventh grade is a chance to have new clothes, new friends, and maybe even a chance to be popular. For Emma it means advanced classes, more competitions, and more rivals.
Payton is instantly part of the “in” crowd when Sydney, the most popular girl in middle school, notices her stylish clothing. Emma, on the other hand, starts seventh grade off on the wrong foot when Jazmine James, the school’s resident genius, marks her as a rival.
Everything is fine (or not, in Emma’s case) for a week– until Payton embarrasses herself big-time in front of Sydney. To help her twin, Emma agrees to switch places with Payton for a while, and maybe, if she’s lucky, get Payton back in Sydney’s good graces. The mission is accomplished by the end of the day, but Payton realizes that she likes being treated like she’s smart, and Emma likes actually having friends– even if it’s fake. They agree to be each other for another day, which leads to another. Finally, they agree to be themselves before the deception gets out of control. But will they get caught before that?
It’s interesting that authors Julia DeVillers and Jennifer Roy actually are twins. You’d think that this would have allowed them to write a more authentic tale. And the format of the book, where Emma and Payton alternatively tell the story chapter by chapter, seems like a good idea at first. However, the first few chapters of Trading Faces are repetitive, a problem that is resolved later on when Payton and Emma are in different circumstances.
Payton and Emma themselves are very two-dimensional, shallow characters. Payton only cares about fashion and popularity, with her sister second to these goals. Emma, on the other hand, only cares about winning competitions; again, her twin takes second place. By the end of the book they learn more about themselves and their twin, but remain two-dimensional.
Overall, this book is a very light, entertaining read that takes a good look at stereotypes. The sequel to Trading Faces is Take Two.