Summary: 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 that maybe Bryce isn't as wonderful as she thought, Bryce is starting to see that Juli is pretty amazing. How these two teens manage beyond the surface of things and come together makes for a comic and poignant romance.
I rarely read middle-grade fiction. I don't know if they weren't as big when I was younger or I just didn't take notice of them, but there weren't any big ones that I remember. I pretty much went from children's books to Harry Potter and straight to young adult books (many of which I was too young to be reading).
Flipped came across my radar simply because I work in a library. It is one of the most recommended middle-grade novels there and my boss has instructed me to read it several times. I, of course, fell behind on this recommendation. Years later, the middle school book club was reading it. Since they have a penchant for actually reading the books (generally unlike the high school book club), I wanted to read it before the plot ended up wrecked for me.
Flipped is the story of Juli and Bryce, two kids thrown together by proximity. Juli thinks the world of Bryce, whereas Bryce spends a good amount of time trying to escape Juli's affections. By the time Bryce comes around, realizing that Juli's weirdness actually shows a strength of character that escapes anyone else Bryce knows, Juli has realized some of Bryce's shortcomings and is prepared to move on with her life. Luckily Bryce realized the necessity of some changes in his life before it was too late.
For some reason that I can't quite figure out, I really enjoyed Flipped. It was incredibly well-written, making me care more about a story starring two twelve-year-olds than I thought possible. Van Draanen captured elementary and middle school perfectly: fitting in is celebrated, whereas people that are different many times end up the subject of mockery. Julianne Baker had a special spirit that refused to be squashed in the face of such mockery. I loved the message in this story and the fact that the characters underwent profound, believable change--Bryce in recognizing Juli's brilliance and his father's shortcomings, Juli in recognizing that Bryce isn't perfect and that sometimes, things don't need to be. I found there characters to be very believable, with entertaining voices (the story is told in dual points of view) and interesting quirks, such as hobbies like chicken-raising.
Wendelin Van Draanen's Flipped is a lovely story about changing perceptions and relationships in the turbulence that is middle school. Its relatable characters spin a great story involving a chicken coop, some trees, and clearing away wrong perceptions. Definitely recommended.
Rating: 4 - this book was good.