Flipped over FLIPPED

A few months ago, Kim-Mermaid and I did a book exchange, where we lent each other ten or so of our favorite YA books to read. Among these ten was a worn, much-loved (by both Kim and her children) copy of a 2001 MG novel called FLIPPED, by Wendelin Van Draanen. Now, I don’t read too much Middle Grade, but I have frequently been charmed by the magic worlds of this genre, so I was more than willing to give it a try.

Oh. My. God.

This book sucked me in on the first page and wouldn’t let me go until long after I finished the last page. Told in the alternating first-person viewpoints of a thirteen-year-old boy and girl, it is more or less a story of a first crush. Julianna falls in love with eight-year-old Bryce’s blue eyes when he moves into the neighborhood, but he finds her, at best, annoying. When eighth grade rolls around, and he finally starts to notice her, she’s no longer sure she’s interested. Sound pretty basic?

Perhaps. But the characters! The voices! So poignant, so distinct, so charming, so REAL. I finished the book, and I thought, “I will never be able to write a book like this in a million years. I might as well give up writing right now.”

Interestingly enough, I had this reaction to exactly one other book this past year, and it was also a light, charming contemporary YA. This is not to say I didn’t read other beautifully-written, well-crafted, superbly-paced books in the last year. I did. But they didn’t intimidate me. In fact, they inspired me to learn more and work harder and continue to improve my craft. So why did I have this reaction to this book?

My theory is because the strengths of this novel are so very different from my own. Whereas I feel like I can continue to improve in the areas of writing and craft and pacing and plot, I feel a bit at a loss when it comes to being “charming.”

pintipThis insight was pretty critical for me. It kept me, after all, from giving up on writing. 🙂 It may be true that I’ll never be able to write a book like FLIPPED, but there’s room for lots of different books and lots of different stories in this world.

What about you? Have you ever had this reaction to a novel? If so, why do you think that is?

Also, if you haven’t read FLIPPED, I highly recommend you pick it up. Or if MG just isn’t your thing, suggest it to any of the preteen/teen girls in your life. I guarantee they will love it


5 thoughts on “Flipped over FLIPPED

  1. Pintip,
    I hesitated about putting that book in our trade bag, but I loved it so much! My girls and all their friends loved it just as much. The movie came out a couple of years ago, but I still haven’t seen it because I’m afraid it won’t be as “charming” as the book. You nailed it. The characters and the story are completely charming. Those are the kinds of books I wish more young girls would read–instead of the mean girl books filled with sarcasm. It was a very refreshing change.

    1. Kim, I’m so glad you included the book. And I absolutely agree with you. This is the kind of book that young girls should read. Thank you so much for introducing me to this book, and thanks for stopping by!

  2. Hi Pintip! This isn’t what I was thining about when we talked about it today but this sounds so good! (I was thinking of a book about Mermaids, go figure!) I have so many nieces who are just the right age for this. Thank you so much for sharing your review with us; you did a WONDERFUL job 🙂

    1. Thank you, Carlene! I hope your nieces enjoy the book! And congrats again on the book release for Sidewalk Flower!! I cannot wait to read it!

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