Van Draanen, Wendelin. Flipped (2003). 212 Pages. Random House. $8.95
As soon as Julianna saw Bryce, she flipped for him. “Honestly, one look at him and I became a lunatic. It’s his eyes… They’re blue, and framed in the blackness of his lashes…” (11). One look, and she knew he was hers, and that he had her kiss. Bryce, however, did not feel the same. She annoyed him from the very first moment, and he spent forever avoiding her. Until everything changes.
Juli’s favorite sycamore tree is cut down, her dog dies, she finds out Bryce has been throwing away her eggs for two years. Any of these Julianna could have dealt with on their own, but the combination is brutal. She is left without her tree, which made her feel safe, and gave her a special view of the world. Her dog, which she got when she was a young child is gone. And the eggs which she has been gifting Bryce and his family with for two years have never once been eaten. Bryce is not who she thought he was, and she doesn’t know what to do.
Bryce’s grandfather moves in, opens the boy’s eyes to what is really around him, and shares some wisdom: “Some of us get dipped in flat, some in satin, some in gloss… but every once in a while you find someone who’s iridescent, and when you do, nothing will ever compare” (96). At first, this means nothing, but slowly Bryce figures it out, as he figures out other important things.
Alongside Bryce and Juli we have their families. Where Julianna’s family is poor and eccentric but supportive and loving, Bryce’s family is dysfunctional. His father is two-faced, his mother delusional, his sister is angst-ridden, and Bryce is suffering an identity crisis.
The end is hardly surprising once you’ve gotten through the book. It is, however, entertaining.
The Quick Version:
This coming-of-age story is fascinating, especially how it feels true to the characters as it transitions between two points of view. The plot is predictable, but interesting. The thing which makes this stand out is the characters, and the way they develop through the story. This book scored a 4 out of 5.