In Muriel Ellis Pritchett’s NOT MYSELF TODAY, an edge-of-your-seat thriller with a unique premise, 18-year-old Lindsey Anderson wakes up in the hospital after passing out at a soccer game to discover that her consciousness is now inhabiting a stranger’s body. Lindsey was a beloved high school senior with a bright future and dreams of competing in the Olympics one day. But everything changes when she wakes up in the body of a young victim of sex trafficking named Annabeth Shepherd. Not only does she learn that she has died, she finds out that Annabeth has stolen money from her pimp, Tony, and he almost killed her trying to get it back once. Surely he will come after her again.
Lindsey flees the hospital and it’s not long until Tony and his posse are on her trail. There is an intense chase scene around Atlanta that provides plenty of excitement, as Lindsey just manages to elude them with the help of a frenemy from school named Justin, a wisecracking bus driver, a speedy taxi operator, and a host of other characters who serve as guardian angels in Lindsey’s moment of need. It’s an absorbing series of scenes that drive the narrative toward its climax, as Lindsey barely makes it out of this situation with her life. There is a raw emotional turmoil in the novel too, as Lindsey tries to convince her father that she is his daughter rather than the stranger she appears to be. It is a more realistic and resonant conflict than the almost madcap adventure Lindsey finds herself in as she is pursued by Tony, and it gives the novel some much-needed emotional weight.
Pritchett’s references are a little dated and her language not quite on the pulse of today’s youth—Lindsey is surprised by a “flash mob” for her birthday, and characters lob passe slang phrases like “Chill out!” and “hottie doctor.” On the other side of the spectrum, it is hard to imagine a teenager saying something like, “Perish the thought that I could ever be best friends with the likes of her.” What the author gets right is the novel’s lesson, which is a valuable one for young adult readers to learn. Lindsey comes to realize how privileged she is to have a father who loves her and supports her, financially as well as emotionally; good friends; an education; and a lot more. When these things are taken from her, not only does she realize how important they were, she comes to understand that not everyone has them and that she should be more open-minded and less judgmental of people from different socioeconomic backgrounds. After learning about the tragic circumstances that caused Annabeth to become ensnared in Atlanta’s sex trafficking underworld, Lindsey seeks to raise awareness about other victims.
NOT MYSELF TODAY is a suspenseful and original take on the body-swapping premise that will appeal to young readers who like action-packed storylines.
~Lisa Butts for IndieReader