I love it when a book gives you different perspectives of events. It’s not third person omission when you’re fed the point-of-view of different characters at once. I’m talking about alternating first-person chapters. Like Nick  & Norah. That’s what Wendelin van Draanen did in her young adult novel, Flipped. You’re introduced to Bryce Loski, a bashful boy finding his place in the world and setting off to become the person he’s supposed to be; then there’s Julianna Baker, the outgoing, intelligent, philosophical girl next door who crushes on Bryce.

Whenever I read young adult, I’m always transported back to my youth. Adolescent me related to Bryce’s cowardice, scoffed at his poorly defined idea of beauty, and wanted to slap him about not realizing that Julianna is a choice girl. Then I found myself reminiscing about how different I felt around my peers. How I had friends but didn’t really have close friends (not at that school anyway, and not until Miranda and Monica pretty solidified themselves in my life).

The way Wendelin van Draanen molds her characters’ voices and the circumstances she creates from them, carving them from just words, makes them real. She sprinkles comedy throughout the book that remains serious on issues such as prejudice, social norms, beauty, and acceptance of others. While having a few of her books in our department, I never once picked up anything by her. And after I watched the movie based on the book, I just had to read it. I’m glad I did. Because now I’m off to check out her other works—I’ve had Runaway in my cross-hairs for some time.

About the book (via Amazon):

The first time she saw him, she flipped. The first time he saw her, he ran. That was the second grade, but not much has changed by the seventh. She says: “My Bryce. Still walking around with my first kiss.” He says: “It’s been six years of strategic avoidance and social discomfort.” But in the eighth grade everything gets turned upside down. And just as he’s thinking there’s more to her than meets the eye, she’s thinking that he’s not quite all he seemed.

This is a classic romantic comedy of errors told in alternating chapters by two fresh, funny new voices. Wendelin Van Draanen is at her best here with a knockout cast of quirky characters and a hilarious series of misunderstandings and missed opportunities. But underlying the humor are two teens in transition. They are each learning to look beyond the surface of people, both figuring out who they are, who they want to be, and who they want to be with.

Flipped
by Wendelin Van Draanen
Ember, Reprint edition 12 May 2003
ISBN: 9780375825446

Flipped is available at Amazon and Barnes & Noble. An e-book edition is also available for Kindle and Nook. Watch or own the 2010 film based on the book starring Madeline Carroll and Callan McAuliffe.

 

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