Bryce and Juli have known each other since second grade, when Bryce’s family moved in across the street from Juli’s family. From that first moment about six years earlier, Juli has had a longstanding crush on the handsome boy with the seemingly perfect family, and Bryce has had a longstanding annoyance about the way Juli looks at him, talks to him, hangs around him.
Now that they’re in eighth grade and Bryce’s grandfather has moved in with his family, a few events start to change how each sees the other. Juli has some chickens that lay eggs in her backyard, which all literally grew out of a science project; a large, old sycamore tree that was a favorite spot for Juli is cut down, and Bryce gets stuck being a “basket boy.”
The charm of this book is in seeing the story from two different viewpoints — the book alternates chapters between Juli’s point of view and Bryce’s — and in just observing how girls and boys see things differently, especially as things evolve from when they’re in elementary school to when they are in junior high. Flipped could be delightful just in this way, but it also adds in poignant storylines that affect how the characters see life, in particular Bryce. Van Draanen handles what could be heavy or “serious” plot points with a light touch, never letting them take over the story or feel manipulative.
The characters feel very real; Juli is particularly a strong character who is absolutely her own person, likable and a heroine any reader will want to root for. And watching Bryce start to realize some important truths is very satisfying.
Rated: Mild. There’s almost no language except pretty frequent uses of the “p”-word. It kind of plays its own part in the story, so it’s used a lot throughout.