Flipped by Wendelin Van Draanen
"Bryce: My mom didn't understand why it was so awful that 'that cute little girl' had held my hand. She thought I should be friends with her. 'You like soccer. Why don't you go out there and kick the ball around?' Because I didn't want to be kicked around, that's why. And although I couldn't say it like that at the time, I still had enough sense at age seven and a half to know that Julianna Baker was dangerous.
Julianna: What did a kiss feel like anyway? Somehow I knew it wouldn't be like the one I got from Mom or Dad at bedtime. The same species, maybe, but a radically different beast. Like a wolf and a whippet. Only science would put them on the same tree. Looking back, I like to think it was at least partly scientific curiosity that made me chase after that kiss, but it was probably more those blue eyes."
I had no idea what to expect with this book. I normally do not read the back blurbs, but this time I did because it was scheduled to be a book club book at the school this summer, and I wanted to see if it would be appropriate for my soon-to-be fourth and second graders. After reading the above blurb, I definitely decided that it was not going to be appropriate for them. I read the whole book to see if maybe my soon-to-be eighth and seventh graders could read it. Judging from the blurb, I didn't really like the premise. The talk of the kiss kind of turned me off; it sounded like the book would be about an obsessed crazy girl or something. I am glad to report that it is not like that at all. The description makes it seem like it will be something very different from what it is. It is actually a cute story about two kids. Bryce moves in across the street from Julianna when they are in second grade. He doesn't like what he sees, and she loves what she sees. Hahaha......the story follows these two as they grow up. It moves from one viewpoint to the next. It's interesting because it shows the same events from each of their perspectives. I thought this was so interesting. It's great to have middle-schoolers read this because you see how actions, words, and assumptions affect those around you. As you read the different vantage points, you can begin to see how stereotypes, socioeconomic status, and certain situations are seen by "the world" as one thing, but are, in reality, completely different. I think this is a great book to help kids see that before they judge someone they need to walk in their shoes. It also helps them to see that words do hurt. I ended up liking this book. I liked the character development and how it was written. I liked the writing style. I liked the insight into each of these characters' lives. I think it is a book that every middle-schooler should read because it helps them see that it is not all about them.
There were some things in this book that I think make it inappropriate for middle-graders and younger readers. There are a couple of profane words. Mostly, I think some of the themes discussed are more appropriate for middle-schoolers. There isn't any "intimacy" or violence, besides the second grade kiss, but I think the older kids will better understand it and take from it what should be taken. Does that make sense? I did enjoy it, and I think it would make a great book club book, but for middle-schoolers not elementary kids.
Rating: PG-13 (A couple of profane words, heavier topics)
Recommendation: 7th grade and up.