Summary: Flip Turns
Thirteen-year-old Maddie is on her community’s swim team and loves hanging out with her friends at the community pool her parents run. She also has clinical anxiety and uses medications to manage it. Her one big issue is that a boy in her class, Lucas, wants to date her and won’t take no for an answer even though Maddie isn’t interested.
When she rejects his gift of a snow globe, odd vandalism incidents start happening at the pool, threatening her parents’ source of income and causing them to consider selling to a bigger sports company (which, coincidentally, Lucas’s brother is part of). Maddie feels sure that Lucas is responsible and teams up with her friend Esmeralda (Ez) to get to the bottom of the mystery. But are they on the right track?
This was a great slice-of-life + mystery. Maddie is a highly relatable character, especially because I also struggle with anxiety. I loved her friendship with Ez — and really Ez as a whole. Ez has total alopecia, so she’s bald and gets mistaken for someone with cancer. I loved the way the author explored how conditions like alopecia can affect self-esteem, even though Ez is really strong-willed and confident.
I got a whiff of the culprit about halfway through the story, but I’d still rate the mystery element well. This was also a summer-set story, and the pool scenes reminded me a lot of Wientge’s Best Friends, Bikinis, and Other Summer Catastrophes. Maddie’s band of friends is really sweet, and she does develop a crush on a new boy in town, which blossoms into a first relationship.
With one of the characters, Charlotte, we see how parental pressure can affect a child’s enjoyment of a sport. Finally, the theme of sexual harassment looms large in this novel with Lucas’s persistent advances. Again the author does an excellent job of portraying how challenging it can be to speak up while modeling what can be done in such circumstances. It’s also nice that she doesn’t demonize Lucas at the end of the story.
Overall: Flip Turns
Flip Turns is an enjoyable, insightful, and summer-infused debut about navigating unwanted advances, managing anxiety, and maintaining good friendships. This one will appeal to sports lovers who love swimming, as well as to kids dealing with anxiety or trying to manage unwanted romantic attention. It also does a wonderful job of highlighting a lesser-known chronic condition like alopecia and building empathy for the circumstances of others.