Today’s book review is the delightful young adult novel Flipped. My sister and I watched the movie a year ago and we fell in love with the humor and message of the story. I bought the book afterward and found that the movie had stayed largely faithful to the novel, and I loved reading the novel version of a story I loved so much. Flipped is a coming-of-age tale focusing on two young teenagers, Juli and Bryce, and how their perception of each other changes as they learn what kind of person each wants to be. The novel is narrated by both of them, offering insight into their separate worlds, and also offering two points of view to most of the events in the novel. It’s a fun format that highlights the message in this deep yet lighthearted story about first love, integrity, and growing up.
Juli is a precocious, outgoing eighth grade girl who has had a six-year-long crush on a boy named Bryce. The narrative begins with Bryce’s description of when he and Juli first met as second graders, when she barged into his family’s moving van and chased Bryce all over the house, trying to hold his hand. He describes her as “muddy” and that she was always “taking over and showing off like only Juli Baker can.” Bryce’s narrative presents him as a somewhat spoiled child who cares about social status and keeping up appearances.
“I’ll ride my bike all the stinkin’ way to school for the rest of eternity if it means being with her.”
In the second chapter, Julianna Baker’s lively voice takes over. She describes how much she enjoys watching her father paint, because it lends her a sense of peace. She’s a peaceful, unselfish child who enjoys simple pleasures like hearing her father’s stories, raising chickens, and donating fresh eggs to her neighbors. She’s so much more down to earth than Bryce is, but she’s still harboring a crush on her image-obsessed young neighbor.
Flipped is such a gem of a novel because it perfectly encapsulates this experience of growing up and trying to figure out who you are. Bryce, the popular boy, is concerned with his reputation and with being cool, which hurts Juli’s feelings. Juli has a strong sense of morality and begins to truly see Bryce for who he is. Both children have to reexamine the ways they were raised and go through these growing pains as they blossom into teenagers.
“One’s character is set at an early age. The choices you make now will affect you for the rest of your life. I hate to see you swim out so far you can’t swim back.”