Delightful! Delicious! And totally teen.
Bryce and Juli have known one another since he moved in across the street, the summer before second grade, when Juli "barged and shoved and wedged her way into my life." For six years, Bryce has groaned about his misfortune: "That girl is a royal pain. She's a show off, she's a know-it-all and she is pushy beyond belief! She's been stalking me since the second grade!"
As readers' luck would have it, Juli doesn't see it the way Bryce does. On move-in day, Juli thinks Bryce is working so hard he'll keel over. "The tragedy of it catapulted me into the moving van. I had to help! I had to save him!"
Juli is a passionate woman. "The first day I met Bryce Loski, I flipped. Honestly, one look at him and I became a lunatic." In her manic way, Juli pursues the love of her life, while Bryce maintains that he has lived with "more than half a decade of strategic avoidance and social discomfort."
If you aren't laughing by now, you have no sense of teenage humor. With a great ear for dialogue, and a heart that understands the spirit of adolescence, Van Draanen (author of the Sammy Keyes mysteries) has created two distinctive, endearing characters in Bryce and Juli - we pull for both of them. Flipped is told in alternating chapters of he said/she said, and we delight in their opposing viewpoints.
When the romantic tables turn in eighth grade, Bryce grows up enough to realize that he's attracted to the very girl he couldn't stand, and Juli decides she has had enough of Bryce's humiliations and insults. Suddenly, Bryce is the one who has flipped.
Both main characters are supported by caring adults who help them navigate through their changing feelings and let Bryce and Juli see they are part of the dance of life that everyone must learn. By the time we see Bryce putting up a hand and waving, and Juli saying, "I couldn't help it - I gave a little wave back," we know they are well on their way to the next chapter in their lives together.
Deborah Wiles' first two books for children, Freedom Summer and Love, Ruby Lavender, were published this spring.