Study Guide

Flipped Transformation

By Wendelin Van Draanen

Transformation

My mom didn't understand why it was so awful that "that cute little girl" had held my hand. She thought I should make friends with her. "I thought you liked soccer, honey. Why don't you go out there and kick the ball around?"

Because I didn't want to be kicked around, that's why. And although I couldn't say it like that at the time, I still had enough sense at age seven and a half to know that Juli Baker was dangerous. (1.40-41)

Bryce sure does have an opinion or two about Juli Baker right from the start—he even calls her "dangerous." Now that's a pretty strong word, right? What do you think of the idea that Juli is dangerous? Is Bryce on point, or is he exaggerating? As the novel goes along, check out how Bryce's feelings toward Juli change… and how they don't.

It's been over six years now, and I learned long ago to hide my feelings, but oh, those first days. Those first years! I thought I would die for wanting to be with him. (2.2)

From the start, Juli is smitten with the B-man. Bryce just has her feeling gushy all over. But now that Juli is in eighth grade when she's telling us her story, she figures a lot has changed for her over the past six years. Do you agree with Juli? Keep an eye out for ways she changes throughout the novel—and we're willing to bet you'll also find some ways she doesn't change, too.

She tried to get me to come up there with her, too. "Bryce, come on! You won't believe the colors! It's absolutely magnificent! Bryce, you've got to come up here!"

Yeah, I could just hear it: "Bryce and Juli sitting in a tree…" Was I ever going to leave the second grade behind? (3.21-22)

Bryce has been teased about Juli Baker ever since second grade, so he's pretty worried when seventh-grade Juli invites him to sit in a tree with her—he can just hear the taunts coming. But maybe Bryce isn't all that great at seeing into the future. In fact, we're on the lookout for how Bryce's feelings change not just toward Juli, but toward the sycamore tree too.

She was at school, but you'd never know it if you didn't actually look. She didn't whip her hand through the air trying to get the teacher to call on her or charge through the halls getting to class. She didn't make unsolicited comments for the teacher's edification or challenge the kid who took cuts in the milk line. She just sat. Quiet.

I told myself I should be glad about it—it was like she wasn't even there, and isn't that what I'd always wanted? But still, I felt bad. (3.76-77)

After the sycamore tree is gone, Bryce notices some definite changes in Juli. She's gone from a boisterous girl who Bryce found annoying to a quiet girl who almost fades into the background. What do you think about Bryce's comment that "it was like she wasn't even there"? That's a pretty huge change from the energetic girl that Bryce found annoying. Is this a good change or a bad one? And why do you think it makes Bryce feel so guilty?

I hung the painting across the room from my bed. It's the first thing I see every morning and the last thing I see every night. And now that I can look at it without crying, I see more than the tree and what being up in its branches meant to me.

I see the day that my view of things around me stated changing. (4.101-102)

That sycamore tree definitely changes Juli's perspective. When she was up in the tree, she saw the world in a whole new way, and this means that the picture her dad paints of the tree is super powerful. Take a look at how she says it reminds her of the day her "view" changed. We're thinking she means this literally, like she saw things from a new height up in that tree. But it sounds like there's some extra meaning here too. How else do you think Juli's "view" is transformed with the help of the sycamore tree?

He pulled my curtain aside and looked across the street. "One's character is set at any early age, son. The choices you make now will affect you for the rest of your life." He was quiet for a minute, then dropped the curtain and said, "I hate to see you swim out so far you can't swim back." (7.30)

Granddad Chet has some advice for Bryce: start making good decisions. Like right now. Actually—make that yesterday. Granddad is worried that sometimes it can be tough to change, so he doesn't want Bryce to make bad decisions when he's young and then be stuck with those choices forever. It sounds to us like Granddad is worried that maybe transformations can be tough.

I wound up reading and rereading her parts, wondering when in the world she started thinking like that. I mean, no kidding, Juli Baker's smart, but this was something way beyond straight A's.

A month ago if I'd read this article, I would have chucked it in the trash as complete garbage, but for some reason it made sense to me now. A lot of sense.

A month ago I also wouldn't have paid any attention to the picture of Juli, but now I found myself staring at it. (7.148-150).

Bryce has pulled a huge U-turn on us here—it's only been a month, but he's seeing things in a whole new way. Actually, he's seeing Juli in a whole new way. Plus he's paying attention to her words and to her picture. What do you think brings this big transformation on?

I felt a fire burn in my cheeks and a cold, hard knot tighten in my heart. And in a flash I knew—I was through with Bryce Loski. He could keep his brilliant blue eyes. He could keep his two-faced smile and… and my kiss. That's right! He could keep that, too. I was never, ever going to talk to him again! (10.167)

Juli just overheard Bryce talking to Garrett in the library and making fun of her uncle. She's so angry that she completely changes her mind about Bryce—she may have thought he was the bee's knees up until now, but no more. Check out how quickly she says this change happens since it's "in a flash." Plus it's a super physical change, too—she knows that she's transformed all at once and deep down in her gut.

And there was a battle raging inside me. The old Bryce wanted to go back in time, wanted to hang with Garrett and shoot the breeze, wanted to hate Juli Baker again.

Wanted to be the man.

But in my heart I knew the old Bryce was toast. There was no going back. Not to Garrett or Shelly or Miranda or any of the other people who wouldn't understand. Juli was different, but after all these years that didn't bother me anymore.

I liked it.

I liked her. (13.155-159)

Remember back when Bryce thought Juli was the most annoying girl on the planet? Well looks like things are a wee bit different now. Strike that—they're totally different. Now Bryce likes Juli and he feels like a whole new guy. This isn't an easy change for Bryce. He tells us that part of him wants to go back to his old life. But he also tells us that he's left "old Bryce" in the dust. What do you think of the way Bryce refers to his old self in the past tense? Now that's one huge transformation.

My grandfather stood beside me and looked across the street, too. "No, Bryce," he said softly. "She's the same as she's always been; you're the one who's changed." He clapped his hand on my shoulder and whispered, "And, son, from here on out, you'll never be the same again." (13.189)

Bryce and Granddad are having quite the moment here. And our main man Bryce is also realizing just how different his future is going to look—now that he has a new perspective on things, he's a whole new guy. Granddad seems pretty excited for him.