Flipped by Wendelin Van Draanen has sat on my list of books to read for some time but shot quickly to the top when it showed up on the SLJ Best Children's Novels poll. It is now a favorite. I love everything about it.
It is love at first sight at the age of 7. For Juli anyway. She sees Bryce's amazing blue eyes and smile and knows that he is it for her. Bryce is of an entirely different mind. He, in fact, thinks she is a psycho stalker. This goes on through all of their elementary school years. Bryce sees Juli as an overbearing know it all who can't take a hint. Juli sees Bryce's beautiful eyes and brilliant smile. She misreads a great many of his actions. Then eighth grade happens and everything flips. It begins with Juli trying to save her favorite tree, a small event in the history of the town but a turning point in the minds of both Juli and Bryce. Bryce begins to see a different girl, one of passion and conviction and heart, who he would like to know better. Juli is soon convinced Bryce's beautiful eyes have no soul behind them and wants nothing more to do with him. He becomes desperate to show her (and himself) that she's wrong.
I love when a book is told in alternate voices and it's done RIGHT. This is done right. Two chapters, one a piece, and you have Bryce and Juli talking in your head. They sound significantly different and reading the scenes from both their perspectives proves how complex every little situation is, and how no two people ever see it the same way. I loved Bryce's sarcasm. I loved Juli's spirit. As the story continued I felt all of the emotions as they changed and grew. Juli's heartbreak as she realized her ideal boy was a fiction. Bryce's heartbreak as he begins to truly see the things around him and who he doesn't want to be. Juli's love and appreciation for her family. Bryce's embarrassment at his friends. All of this is told with heart and manages to be funny at the same time. Even heartbroken, Bryce is still snarky and Juli is still full of spirit.
Other things I loved: Bryce and his grandfather. Juli and Bryce's grandfather. Bryce's grandfather in general. Juli's whole awesome family. Bryce's mother. Basket Boys. The spot on middle school shenanigans involving the Basket Boys.(You're curious right? I will say no more. READ!)
This book has heart, soul, brains, everything you could want. And the end is absolutely perfect.