Alfred A. Knopf, 2001. 978-0-375-81174-6
Synopsis: Juli Baker has been in love with her neighbor Bryce Loski ever since she first laid eyes on him in the second grade. Bryce Loski has been trying his best to avoid his neighbor Juli Baker since they met in second grade. Juli wants nothing more to be close to Bryce, but he thinks she’s crazy and does his best to push her away. Then, Bryce takes a second look at Juli and starts falling for her just as she starts to pull away from him. Now what?
Why I picked it up: A friend who is a film buff loved the movie version, but being a purist, decided to read the book first based on the movie recommendation.
Why I finished it: This isn’t your typical he-said/she-said novel, though the books chapters alternate between Juli and Bryce’s narratives about their family, friends, school and each other. The book made me remember my own first love (D.J.) and my last love (Zach), but more than that it touches on human relationships at their core – sounds deep for a book review, I know, but bear with me. Juli and Bryce have a relationship with each other that at first can be accurately defined as one-sided, but as the plot moves along, this definition becomes less and less accurate. Similarly, the two characters also have very different relationships with their families, which also change and develop as the story moves along, for good and for better. Neither family is what they seem to be on the surface, something the reader and Juli and Bryce start to understand as the book goes on. What struck me most about the alternating narrative was the complete honesty of the characters – I really related to Juli’s desire to be close to Bryce and come to terms with her fractured home life; I understood Bryce’s desire to just be left alone and realize that there are cracks in his ‘perfect’ home life. There were some bits with the siblings in there that I also related to, and the portrayal of the families I felt was very well done in terms of how the two were presented and contrasted over the course of the novel. Overall, it was touching and funny, one of the few books that made me just want to sit alone with my thoughts after I was finished.
Other related materials: Flipped (movie); Runaway by Wendelin Van Draanen; The Running Dream by Wendelin Van Draanen; Confessions of a Serial Kisser by Wendelin Van Draanen; Swear to Howdy by Wendelin Van Draanen; Tangerine by Edward Bloor; Hoot by Carl Hiaasen; Heartbeat by Sharon Creech; Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli; Life as We Knew It by Susan Beth Pfeffer; Drums, Girls, and Dangerous Pie by Jordan Sonnenblick; Waiting for Normal by Leslie Connor; So B. It by Sarah Weeks; A Kiss in Time by Alex Flinn; When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead