love how Isle fleshed out this one amazing idea - husband and wife wake up one day to find they’ve switched bodies - into a novel that explores gender , desire , love , sex and some good ol mommy issues. So fun and so much to think about , enjoyed the POV switching at the end and that wild , hot bathroom sex scene.
A compelling and fresh take on the body swap trope perfect for any collection. While this isn't exactly a page turner, it's certainly very unique in structure.
Isle McElroy does not miss for me! I loved the atmospherians, and I loved this potentially even more. They are a singular voice in fiction whose high level premises and set pieces only underscore the quiet precision of the way that they write characters. Love love love!
Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for an advanced copy in exchange for an honest review.
I enjoyed this one! An interesting story about what happens when Eli one day wakes up in the body of his wife, Elizabeth. There were some insights about how others treat female-read bodies compared to the male-read body Eli is used to inhabiting, but not a whole lot of this, which surprised me actually. I felt this book was more an episode of a day-in-the-life series rather than a statement on gender or bodies, but maybe that was the point. All told, I enjoyed the story of the life and friends the couple had made in Romania and Paris, though towards the end it did become a little less exciting for me as they sought to return to a point of normalcy.
Isle McElroy is an author I discovered at the library when I found their debut work, The Atmospherians, which I loved and thought was criminally under read. I am so excited to preview their second novel here. People Collide, is a sort of "Freaky Friday" storyline, but make it super gender aware and also have realistic consequences for a completely fantastical premise.
I was thoroughly entertained from the beginning when Eli wakes up in his wife's body and has to figure out how to navigate his new circumstances while also feeling like he owes his wife's body a level of respect he never gave his own. This novel is filled with spot-on observations about everything from gender roles to parenthood and marriage that really reflect a deeper understanding of humanity on the part of the author. There are so many quotable moments, and also one of the most confusingly steamy open door romantic scenes I have ever read.
The plot does seem to suffer in exchange for the themes McElroy is attempting to cover. There is at least one character whose existence doesn't seem to serve the novel in anyway, and while the settings chosen for the novel seem very intentional (locations in Europe) those locations don't really serve the novel, either. I also found the closing chapters really unsatisfying. Overall, though, a really entertaining read with plenty of food for thought packed in.
People Collide was a really interesting read about gender, societal expectations, and love. I appreciated the insight into what it means to be in a certain body, and the style of writing was great.
What a premise! A Freaky Friday situation with a queer bent. Eli and Elizabeth, a married cis couple, wake up one morning and they have switched bodies. Except Eli, now in Elizabeth's body, can't find Elizabeth so he is both wondering what in the world is going on, and looking for his wife (who now looks like him). Though not overtly a story about transness, it is hard not to read between the lines to get a clearer understanding of what Isle McElroy is doing with their visionary and exciting writing.
I loved the unexpected journey as Eli takes his search from Budapest to Paris searching for Elizabeth. We move back and forth in time to lean more about their relationship, and once they are reunited, the unexpected gender dynamics are fascinating and launch this book into a whole other atmosphere. I'm so excited by McElroy's incredible books (2 for 2 so far!) They are truly thinking outside the box and can't wait to see what they come up with next. Also, the ending to this book is perfect! A hard feat, but they nailed it.
People Collide by Isle Mcelroy is truly unique!
This book has everything: Bulgaria, pizza ovens, paranoid german men, a pair of hotel slippers, snooping neighbors
I don’t know what I was expecting when I started reading this book, but what I didn’t expect was to be taken on an emotional and mental rollercoaster of a “no-plot, just vibes” self-discovering journey. This book has a little bit of everything, from mystery, to gender commentary, to heartbreak, sex, and everyday life. There are a few scenes I still think about from time to time.
Thank you NetGalley & Harper Audio for the ALC. A special thanks to Isle McElroy! All opinions are my own.
This book was probably one of the most unique books I’ve read, in terms of it’s premise and structure. I felt mildly confused throughout most of the book, and ended the book feeling even more confused, but I still enjoyed it?? I don’t really know how I would even classify this read lol.
People Collide follows married couple Elizabeth and Eli. Elizabeth is an overachiever, a prime example of “eldest daughter” vibes in my opinion. Eli is an only child that grew up loathing himself, and thus has never really possessed the drive to want anything better for himself. Although they are both aspiring writers, Eli’s work has come to a standstill, while Elizabeth’s work has landed her a fellowship in Bulgaria. Living together in a cramped apartment overseas during this fellowship, the couple falls into a mundane routine of married life. The story starts from the perspective of Eli, who awakes one day and comes to find out that he has actually woken up in Elizabeth’s body. With no recollection of how this happened, or even where his own body (which he is assuming Elizabeth is now inhabiting) is, Eli starts a confusing and tumultuous journey of attempting to find Elizabeth/His body. Among family and friends, as he continues to assume Elizabeth’s role in their life, it becomes assumed that apparently Eli has left his wife alone in a foreign country. As Eli (in Elizabeth’s body) embarks on a journey to try and find her/himself (lol), we come to see different sides of both Eli and Elizabeth through a retrospective lens.
The structure, as I mentioned before, was quite different from anything I’ve read in the past. It almost felt a bit all over the place, but in a measured and controlled way?? I kept waiting for there to be some sort of climax, some grand happening, but it pretty much continued at the same pace all the way throughout. I didn’t mind this; maybe toward the last 30 pages or so I started to get a little bit distant from the text. I did also maybe wish there was a little more exploration of either identity or sexuality or something, because it seemed like the story covered so much but also not enough at times. But I think that may have been the point. I don’t know, I think a lot of this book might have gone over my head to be honest lol. But overall this was just a very interesting story, from two pretty unique perspectives. I found myself not truly liking either of these characters, but also felt a deep sympathy for both of them at times. It was so raw, seeing the (what I considered to be) unhealthy thoughts that belonged to both of them in respect to their relationship, and the ways that both of them had individual habits of self sabotage. But I could also see the ways in which each of them struggled to be with each other because of the other’s traits. I don’t even really know how to articulate the thoughts I had while reading this to be honest, it was just such a unique read. Genuinely just one that you have to read first hand.
I don't know if I can accurately/appropriately put into words a description of this book. It is one of the most unique stories I've read. Not only is the premise unusual, in an enjoyable way, but the quality of writing is wonderful, which allows the content justice.
This story deeply dives into character, specifically character in duress. Its focus is self-perception and it explores this topic in such a unique way.
As the reader, we are also given the opportunity to explore the complexities of an individual in a romantic relationship and how an individual can feel about themselves through the lease of that relationship.
This book is also a perfect length. The author gets to the point and the story is better for it.
The ending is not at all what I expected and it left me wanting so much more, frustratingly so, but all until that point was done so well that I can't even be upset about it.
This is on my highly recommend list. I'm going to need a physical copy for my shelf!
What a beautiful book. I expected to read it in a couple days since it's only 256 pages but I did not expect wanting to savor it because of its exceptional writing. I'm a big fan of collecting book quotes, but with this book I highlighted entire paragraphs of just amazing writing. I'm in awe of the author's talent with words.
People collide is about Elizabeth and Eli, a couple who one day wake up in the body of their partner and one of them gone. The story goes on with each of them learning to navigate in each other's body and lives, one of them trying desperately to go back to their body and the other wanting to stay exactly how it is.
This book felt very intimate, like I was inside their circle watching everything happen. I loved it and definitely see myself rereading it soon.
Thank you so much to netgalley and the publishers for the eARC.
Eli and Elizabeth, both writers and recently married, are living in Bulgaria. One day, when Eli leaves the apartment to visit Elizabeth at work, Eli realizes two surprising things: he and Elizabeth have switched bodies, and Elizabeth has left with no notice and no indication of where she went. As Eli gets used to learning what it is like to live in Elizabeth's body, he confronts whether Elizabeth wants to be found -- and what it will mean for their marriage, their careers, and the future if they are reunited.
This was a perceptive story, exploring in an original way interesting and timely themes.
This is a story about how well anyone can understand their partner — or themselves. Eli moved to Bulgaria with his wife, Elizabeth, when she won a prestigious fellowship. Although both Eli and Elizabeth are writers, Elizabeth is the more successful one — with a prestigious pedigree, an impressive publishing record, and strong interest from literary agents for her future writing. One afternoon, Eli discovers that he and Elizabeth have switched bodies — and that Elizabeth, in Eli's body, has disappeared without a trace.
As Eli starts to get used to living as Elizabeth, he also must deal with her apparent abandonment. Under pressure from his mother, Eli as Elizabeth travels to Paris to try to find Elizabeth as Eli — although Eli senses that Elizabeth does not want to be found. Eli finds that living as Elizabeth gives him an entirely new view on some of Elizabeth's perspectives that he never fully appreciated before, but
also what it means to navigate the world as a woman and as someone recognized and respected for their talent.
I really enjoyed this book. It powerfully portrays what it is like to switch bodies and switch genders — exploring the ways it impacts Eli's (and Elizabeth's) internal and external experience with navigating the world. I appreciated how the book shows how each of Eli and Elizabeth learned more about themselves by being in the other's body, as they confronted previously unexamined assumptions or beliefs including as related to ambition, talent as a writer, and how much that informs their respective identities. The book was also a quite interesting exploration of family. The book raised thought-provoking questions about how well one can really know another's family, even a spouse's family. I found the portrayal of how Eli as Elizabeth interacted with Elizabeth's parents, and came to better understand their internal dynamics, particularly insightful.
Beautifully written, People Collide is a quick read with a lot packed into its pages. When a husband finds himself in the body of his wife, and his own body/wife missing, he quite literally begins to see the world in a different way. Questioning his own movements, his own abilities, even his own desires, Eli begins to balance his new life with the expectations of not only his mother but those of his wife's parents. He begins to realize there are certain accepted norms for women, even brilliant and artistic ones, and his wife made certain decisions often based on those, regardless of what she truly may have wanted, as did he in his former body.
This would be an interesting book club read to see how different people responded or would respond in similar situations. What choices would they have made the same or different? Along with the thought provoking situations, the writing is smart, funny, and gorgeous. This is one I'll be thinking about for awhile still.
Thank you to NetGalley and HarperVia for the pre-pub.
This was an interesting one. I tend to enjoy books where something inexplicable happens, but the work of the book is not to explain the fantastical/unreal event, but rather, to explore what happens in it (examples: The Wall by Marlen Haushofer and I Who Have Never Known Men by Jacqueline Harpman). This book is one of those books– early on, the husband and wife, Eli and Elizabeth (respectively), wake to find they are in their spouse's body, but with their own consciousness. We see the novel from Eli's perspective in Elizabeth's body, as he searches for Elizabeth (in his body), who has disappeared.
The plot presents a fascinating concept, and some deep, devastating, and unflinching exploration of a relationship occurs in these pages. The character study of both halves of this couple was well-drawn, and there's some excellent writing here.
However, something about this book didn't quite grab and absorb me, and I can't quite put my finger on what. Perhaps the pacing was a bit slow, and the changes from Eli's first-person perspective to third-person views of Elizabeth's upbringing to– for the final section at the end – the POV of a character who was not at the center of the conflict throughout the whole book, was off-putting and didn't quite cohere to make a work that smoothly progressed. Not that all writing has to be smooth. But it felt jarring.
I also think that the imbalance between the characters– Elizabeth as slightly cold, accomplished, and exacting; Eli as content to play second fiddle to her, unambitious, and self-conscious– just didn't quite make sense. Characters certainly don't have to be perfect (how boring), but ultimately, it didn't feel believable how these two fit together, despite their flaws.
While I didn't love this book, there's definitely something here. If someone asked me if they should read it, I would say yes, but I'd want to hear their thoughts– I get the sense different people will get different things from this. Overall– not the book for me, but will certainly be for someone.
i inhaled PEOPLE COLLIDE very quickly because the excellent first chapter hooked me. sadly i was not as keen on the latter half. the first half of the novel felt more controlled, while after the 50% mark it went off the rails and felt more scattered, directionless, and random. there were some questionable creative choices in plot and perspective (the paris shooting? the mom's perspective at the end?) and character motivations were all over the place. i just kept thinking that clearly mcelroy is trying to say something about gendered bodily experiences, marriage, and how others perceive you but their points were a little too elusive, and none of the elements here ever quite came together for me as a cohesive whole.
i loved THE ATMOSPHERIANS and think mcelroy is much more at home in satire and dark humor; this more serious book just didn't hit the right notes. lots of potential but not enough execution.
I loved Isle McElroy’s debut novel The Atmospherians, a weird and whimsical exploration of hashtag influencer culture set in a world where men basically Suddenly Start Digging Holes - so I was REALLY excited to read this. McElroy has such a convincing and precise understanding of people’s identities and self-worth and how that impacts their relationships, and as a result writes unexpectedly grounded but still interesting contemporary fiction. I read this book with edge of my seat suspense like it was a relationship thriller on par with a genderqueer Gone Girl.
Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher, who provided a complimentary digital copy in exchange for an honest review.
4.5ish rounded down~
this book caught me by surprise - I loved it a lot more than I expected to! I really really appreciated the themes explored re: gendered experiences & intimacy (what it means to know your partner, and yourself). it definitely expanded my mind a bit, even when looking at my own relationship. I thought it was really imaginative & well-written.
that said, I do think I loved the first half more than the second half. and for some weird reason I had a weird frustration towards Elizabeth (as Eli), though I think I understand what McElroy was trying to say with the way the story unfolded.
either way, an enjoyable ride! thank you netgalley & harper for the e-arc :)
A very interesting book on gender roles and what happens when we are quite literally put in someone else’s shoes. Although the book started off a little slow for me, it soon picked up and I enjoyed seeing where the characters were going and how they would react to their surroundings.
"People Collide" by Isle McElroy is a thought-provoking adult novel that artfully explores themes of LGBTQIAP+ identity and sexuality. The book's insightful narrative delves into the complexities of human relationships and personal journeys. Isle McElroy's skillful storytelling brings authenticity and depth to the characters, creating a resonant and engaging reading experience. "People Collide" is a powerful exploration of the intersections between identity and connection, making it an impactful read for those seeking a nuanced and heartfelt portrayal of diverse experiences within the LGBTQIAP+ community.