Flipped by Wendelin Van Draanen (YA)
Getting mail is one of the loveliest things. It’s so much more exciting than an email and mail is even better when it’s a friend sending you a book. Thanks Britt, for making my day when you mailed me an awesome novel.
Van Draanen has been on my radar for a while because I really like her Sammy Keyes mysteries. Keyes is a tomboy in middle school who secretly lives with her grandmother because her gran isn’t supposed to have anyone living with her. She sarcastic, loves softball and solving mysteries. Keyes is a really awesome character who does what she believes in and doesn’t go along with the flow. Juli Baker is the same. She raises chickens, she loves soccer and she’ll stay up in the old sycamore tree to try to save it from being cut down.
The narration of Flipped switches between the two main characters: Julianna Baker and Bryce Loski. In the second grade, Juli has a crush on Bryce from the first time she meets him. He’s just so cute, and she’s been waiting for a friend her own age for a while. Meanwhile, Bryce is just terrified of her and doesn’t like that she’s messy and so eager to be friends. The plot quickly zips along to the eighth grade, noting that all the while Juli’s had a crush on Bryce, while Bryce tries to completely avoid her.
However, things are starting to change. Juli is slowly becoming aware that Bryce isn’t who she sees him as, and Bryce is starting to wonder if he’s been worried about the right things all along. I have a major saw that I like to harp on, which is that we often fundamentally misunderstand people so that we can continue to see the world as we like. There’s a way that we like to see things, and so when something or someone doesn’t fit our original view, we just misunderstand it so that our viewpoint continues to work, to our personal detriment. Juli sees Bryce as a good person who’s just really shy, mainly because he’s so good looking. Bryce sees Juli as annoying but is too scared to tell her that’s she’s coming on too strong. As well, he is completely focused on appearances, thinking that her house is a mess, and he worries too much about what other people think. Of course, the way they feel is going to flip, and maybe Bryce can change.
In the Q & A in the back, Van Draanen talks about being a teacher and noticing how her students always had crushes on such unworthy people. However, those people were cute or pretty, and as a teacher she couldn’t really say anything. I think Flipped really does try to show that appearances aren’t everything. As well, it honestly portrays the ridiculous moments of boy craziness that can happen to anyone, even smart, sensible girls. I remember middle school, and those stupid stomach flips and moments of going crazy over someone who wasn’t that special at all. My only thing to criticize is that I felt like Juli’s crush started too early for it to last for so long. Five years is a long time, especially if you aren’t really talking to him.