Study Guide

Flipped Love

By Wendelin Van Draanen

Love

All I've ever wanted is for Juli Baker to leave me alone. For her to back off—you know, just give me some space. (1.1)

Bryce sure does have some anger against Juli Baker, and since these are the first sentences of the book we know right away that his relationship with Juli is going to be super important to this story.

The first day I met Bryce Loski, I flipped. Honestly, one look at him and I became a lunatic. It's his eyes. Something in his eyes. They're blue, and framed in the blackness of his lashes, they're dazzling. Absolutely breathtaking. (2.1)

Juli has a serious crush on Bryce right from the get-go—it's those gorgeous eyes. She just can't escape them. But over time, she grows to like more about Bryce than just his eyes… and dislike some stuff too.

I chased Bryce up the walkway, and that's when everything changed. You see, I caught up to him and grabbled his arm, trying to stop him so maybe we could play a little before he got trapped inside, and the next thing I know he's holding my hand, looking right into my eyes. 

My heart stopped. It just stopped beating. And for the first time in my life, I had that feeling. You know, like the world is moving all around you, all beneath you, all inside you, and you're floating. Floating in midair. And the only thing keeping you from drifting away is the other person's eyes. They're connected to yours by some invisible physical force, and they hold you fast while the rest of the world swirls and twirls and falls completely away. (2.18-19)

Juli's crush just got real—and she's a pretty poetic gal with this description of love. Who knew that two second-graders holding hands could be so intense?

Then one time he surprised me and asked me about Bryce. Why was I so crazy about Bryce?

I told him about his eyes and his hair and the way his cheeks blush, but I don't think I explained it very well because when I was done Dad shook his head and told me in soft, heavy words that I needed to start looking at the whole landscape. (4.9-10)

When Juli's dad asks her why she's so into Bryce, she has a tough time giving a straight answer. Did you notice how she focuses mainly on physical traits? She likes his "eyes," his "hair," and those adorable blushing "cheeks." But what about his personality? And why do you think Mr. Baker says Juli doesn't yet see the "whole landscape"?

"Bryce, I asked you to conquer your fear, but all you did was give in to it. If you were in love with her, that would be one thing. Love is something to be afraid of, but this, this is embarrassing. So she talks too much, so she's too enthused about every little thing, so what? Get in, get your question answered, and get out. Stand up to her, for cryin' out loud!" (5.170)

When Bryce is nervous to ask Juli about her eggs, his dad gets seriously angry. But in the midst of this anger, Bryce's dad also starts to give us some hints about the real thing Bryce is afraid of. Yes Shmoopers, you guessed it—"love."

By the third time I brought eggs over to the Loskis, I realized that Bryce was waiting for me. Waiting to pull the door open and say, "Thanks, Juli," and then, "See you at school."

It was worth it. Even after Mrs. Helms and Mrs. Stueby offered me more money per dozen, it was still worth it. So, through the rest of sixth grade, through all of seventh grade and most of eighth, I delivered eggs to the Loskis. The very best, shiniest eggs went straight to the Loskis, and in return I got a few moments alone with the world's most dazzling eyes.

It was a bargain. (6.132-134)

It's been six years and Juli's crush is staying strong. She starts bringing the eggs to the Loskis to be neighborly… and getting to see Bryce is a huge bonus. But Juli's story has us cringing a little too, since we know Bryce is only waiting for Juli so he can through the eggs out before his parents find out—so what Juli sees as a sign of sweetness is actually a sign of sneakiness. Looks like sometimes love has its share of misunderstandings.

I'd spent so many years avoiding Juli Baker that I'd never really looked at her, and now all of a sudden I couldn't stop. This weird feeling started taking over the pit of my stomach, and I didn't like it. Not one bit. To tell you the truth, it scared the Sheetrock out of me.

I buried the paper under my pillow and tried to remind myself of what a pain Juli Baker was. But my mind started to wander again, and pretty soon I had that stupid paper out from under my pillow.

This was insane! What was I doing? (7.151-153)

Folks, Bryce has caught the Juli-bug. But these new emotions have Bryce more confused than ever. Check out how he keeps questioning his actions, and wondering why his ideas about Juli have changed. It sounds to us like he's really uncomfortable with the new feelings in his poor lovesick tummy. Why do you think he's so discombobulated?

Then there was Bryce—the most disturbing of all because I had to admit that I didn't really know him, either. And based on what I'd discovered lately, I didn't care to know any more. Looking across the table at him, all I got was a strange, detached, neutral feeling. No fireworks, no leftover anger or resurging flutters.

Nothing. (12.57-58)

Wow—Juli's feelings toward Bryce sure have changed. She used to look at Bryce and feel all gooey inside, but what does she feel these days? "Nothing." Her tone sounds pretty "detached" to us too—it's almost as if she really doesn't care about Bryce one bit.

I liked her.

And every time I saw her, she seemed more beautiful. She just seemed to glow. I'm not talking a like a hundred-watt bulb; she just had this warmth to her. Maybe it came from climbing that tree. Maybe it came from singing to chickens. Maybe it came from whacking at two-by-fours and dreaming about perpetual motion. I don't know. All I know is that compared to her, Shelly and Miranda seemed so… ordinary. (13.159-160)

Bryce finally admits what we've known for a while: he likes Juli. And what does he like about her? Every. Single. Thing. So all those annoying habits he used to hate, like singing to chickens and climbing in trees—now he likes all this stuff too. Check out how Bryce focuses on her looks and her personality here. He likes that she's "beautiful," but he also likes that she's a smart tree-climbing lass. Go, Bryce, go.

"I tried to kiss her! In front of this whole room of people, while I was supposed to be having that stupid basket boy lunch with Shelly and Miranda, I tried to kiss her!"

Slowly, a smile spread across his face. "You did?"

"I was, like, possessed. I couldn't stop myself! But she pulled away and…" I looked out the window at the Bakers' house. "And now she won't talk to me!" […]

Maybe my grandfather's happy about all this, but I'm miserable. I can't eat; I can't watch TV; I can't seem to do anything. 

So I went to bed early, but I can't sleep. I've watched her house from my window for hours now. I've stared at the sky; I've counted sheep. But man, I can't stop kicking myself for what an idiot I've been all these years. (13.182-184, 190-191)

Bryce's love has him reeling. Take a look at the way he describes his feelings: he says that he is "possessed" and "miserable." Love doesn't sound super pleasant when he puts it like that, right? Bryce feels out of control control, and he doesn't like it. Now if he can just get Juli to like him again, then maybe all his problems will be solved.