Author: Wendelin Van Draanen
Publication date: October 1st,2001
Genre: Realistic Fiction/Middle Grade/Romance
Synopsis: Flipped is a romance told in two voices. The first time Juli Baker saw Bryce Loski, she flipped. The first time Bryce saw Juli, he ran. That’s pretty much the pattern for these two neighbors until the eighth grade, when, just as Juli is realizing Bryce isn’t as wonderful as she thought, Bryce is starting to see that Juli is pretty amazing. How these two teens manage to see beyond the surface of things and come together makes for a comic and poignant romance.
Flipped is the cutest and one of the best middle grade contemporaries I’ve read in a while.This book takes one back to the delightfully innocent and carefree years of grade school,when innocent crushes had one flipping and having tummy aches. :)But it is also a contemplative tale of two middle graders coming to terms with the changes in the world and the people around them as they enter their adolescence.
It all begins when seven year old Bryce Loski moves into the house across the street from seven year old Julianna Baker’s.When Juli eagerly goes up to introduce herself to her new best friend,she flips.Why?Well,Juli explains it best:
“The first day I met Bryce Loski, I flipped. Honestly, one look at him and I became a lunatic. It’s his eyes. Something in his eyes. They’re blue, and framed in the blackness of his lashes, they’re dazzling. Absolutely breathtaking.”
Unfortunately,the boy with the dizzying blue eyes,Bryce,doesn’t appreciate her enthusiasm and wants nothing to with the soccer playing mud-monkey.So he does the only manly thing a seven year old can do–he dives behind his mother.:D
What follows next is Juli chasing Bryce all throughout elementary school up till middle school,trying to save him from unwanted(or wanted?) attention from girls,whispering spellings in his blond fuzz filled ear and sniffing the watermelon in his hair,and Bryce resorting to every trick known to a middle schooler to avoid her.You see,our girl Juli doesn’t have an inkling about Bryce’s real feelings.Rather she thinks Bryce is too shy to hold hands with her or talk to her.Told in alternate POVs by Bryce and Juli,it was hilarious to read about their radically different interpretations of the same scenes.Especially Bryce’s chapters had me in stitches.
Juli is the star pupil who can talk about ‘perpetual motion’,a courageous tom boy who plays soccer and climbs sycamore trees to save them from being cut down,and a very sensible girl,except when it comes to Bryce of course.:)I loved Juli.She has such a tender,sensitive heart which makes her feel more deeply for everything than others,which can be sometimes a curse for a child because kids her age often don’t relate to her,thus making her the odd one.She is also wise beyond her years because eventually when she comes to realise that Bryce is a cowardly boy who lies and is mean,she decides to get over him.Her strength of character is what impressed me throughout the book.
Bryce is nothing like Juli.While he may not be perfect and in fact more often than not,I wanted to knock some sense into him,he is a character which most of us can relate to.At some point in our lives almost everyone has done some stupid things like Bryce.Though he is conscientious and realises when he is in the wrong,he is not motivated enough to act on it,and is too chicken to voice his opinions.But eventually he grows up and starts seeing the world differently.My heart went out to him when he realizes that his father is not the hero he thought him to be but is in fact a prejudiced jerk.It is always difficult to come to terms with the negative qualities of people we admire.Also,when Juli finally decides to wash her hands off him in eighth grade,Bryce suddenly comes to see Juli differently,and this time he ‘flips’.
“She wasn’t looking at me. She seemed to be looking at everything but me. And I felt like an idiot,……….
On top of that, she looked more like that stupid picture in the paper than the picture did, if that makes any sense. Not because she was all dressed up — she wasn’t. She was wearing some normal-looking dress and normal-looking shoes, and her hair was the way it always is except maybe a little more brushed out. It was the way she was looking at everything but me, with her shoulders back and her chin out and her eyes flashing.” -Bryce
But now Juli wants nothing to do with a coward and a liar,so Bryce has his work cut out for him to make her believe that he’s changed.
Despite the cuteness of the story,there is more to Flipped than Juli and Bryce,because it also makes us aware of the prejudices in society through the eyes of two kids.There are some heart warming lessons to take away from this story which have been incorporated cleverly without being offensive or preachy.I loved the wisdom in Bryce’s grandfather’s words and the selflessness of Juli’s parents.The metaphors used throughout the story are worth noting.
The story doesn’t have a happily ever after for the protagonists,but it ends in a realistic way on a hopeful note.This is YA contemporary at its best.
“Some of us get dipped in flat, some in satin, some in gloss… But every once in a while,you will find someone who’s iridescent, and when you do, nothing will ever compare.” —Granddad Duncan
N.B. Flipped has been adapted into an equally wonderful movie directed by Rob Reiner and starring Madeline Carroll as Juli Baker and Callan McAuliffe as Bryce Loski, which was initially released on August 6,2010