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Continuing with the 2019 Alphabet Variation Challenge:

Letter M

For letter “M,” I read Courtney Milan’s Trade Me, published in 2015.

This story started off with a pretty unrealistic premise. In Trade Me, Tina Chen and Blake Reynolds are two 20-somethings attending college in northern California. Tina is a working class Chinese American, who is also pre-med. Blake Reynolds is the only child of an extremely wealthy CEO of a high tech company who is on hiatus from the company in order to finish his studies. Blake’s father, however, is not terribly interested in seeing his son complete his degree. He, himself, was a drop out and became a billionaire by founding a tech company and developing extremely popular tech products, and he’d like his son to return to the fold and — sooner rather than later — take over as CEO of Cyclone. Tina also has parental problems, but of a different sort. Tina’s parents struggle from paycheck to paycheck, but instead of being careful with money, Tina’s mother often uses her last dollar to help new immigrants and others with their legal problems. If not for Tina earning money between classes and pinching her own pennies, her family’s bills would pile up.

With those enormously different backgrounds, Tina and Blake get into a debate in class over poverty programs and their effects on the poor which turns into a heated argument. Afterwards, they continue their discussion and Blake makes Tina a proposition. They will switch places for a few weeks. He’ll live in her apt., do her job, live on her income, while Tina and her roommate can move into Blake’s expensive home, use his car, and even have access to a new product being developed by Cyclone so that she can help to develop a launch presentation for the product.

That’s the part which is a bit unbelievable and it stretches the imagination a bit that they could get away with it, except Tina and Blake pretend to be a couple in order for Blake’s father to accept Tina’s knowledge about their company’s new product and for Tina’s parents not to question her new found access to such things as a $60,000 Tesla. After this initial switch, things get interesting as Tina and Blake begin to understand each other’s problems more and get emotionally and physically closer. Towards the end of the story, the whole thing takes quite a serious and dramatic turn when Blake and Tina reveal their vulnerabilities and, subsequently, face a life threatening incident involving Blake’s father as well as a threat to Tina’s reputation and hopes for the future. For me, while the beginning of this story was a little out there, the ending made up for it. I give the story a “B”.


The Alphabet Variation Challenge – 2 down, 17 to go (M, S …)