Jolly Fish Press
Published September 13, 2022
About Flip Turns
Thirteen-year-old Maddie just wants her classmate, Lucas, to leave her alone. He keeps asking her out—as if she hasn’t already said no a thousand times! Focusing on her competitive swim team, the Electric Eels, Maddie tries to ignore him, hoping he’ll go away.
But then, when someone starts sabotaging Maddie’s family-owned pool—glass on the deck, ketchup in the pool, followed by a “code brown”—Maddie worries it’s her “admirer” trying to get even. After Maddie’s parents rule the problems at the pool just harmless pranks, Maddie and her best friend Ez decide to investigate on their own. Could it be Lucas? And how can Maddie get him to leave her alone once and for all? The future of the Electric Eels and Maddie’s family legacy are on the line.
I’ve been hearing about this book a lot on Twitter, so I was really excited to check it out. Plus the characters being on a swim team and the main character dealing with unwanted romantic attention both caught my eye– I wanted to see how those played out in a middle grade book.
I’ve never been part of a swim team or anything like that, but I loved the opportunity to read about a team. The story hit just the right balance between describing meets, races, and different strokes and making everything very accessible to readers who aren’t familiar with the sport.
I found Maddie’s character so relatable, especially as she deals with Lucas, the boy who won’t stop asking her to go out with him. She tries to be chill and calm, but inside, she’s really uncomfortable. She worries that whatever she does will just escalate his behavior. When the pranks start happening at the pool, she worries that’s exactly what is happening.
Maddie’s best friend Ez is also great. She’s a high-achieving, outspoken girl who helps Maddie face her fears and energizes her to do things that Maddie feels anxious about. She’s not pushy or over-the-top. I felt like those two were a great pair.
I also liked the way the story juxtaposes Lucas, who does not respect Maddie’s space or boundaries, with Nico, who does. While Nico isn’t perfect, he offers Maddie space when she needs it and takes responsibility when he’s wrong. I thought putting those two very different experiences with boys side by side helped create a bigger picture of relationships and how to navigate them in a healthy way.
All in all, I really liked FLIP TURNS. It has a little bit of intensity, but not too much for the target audience. It gently but clearly introduces ideas about boundaries and respect in relationships, which is a great message for middle school readers. And it’s all wrapped up in a fun, mysterious story.
Recommended for Ages 10 to 14.
Maddie has anxiety. Nico is half-Latino. Maddie’s older sister is dating a girl. Two of the girls on her swim team are dating. Maddie’s best friend has alopecia.
Profanity/Crude Language Content
Someone puts poop in the pool.
A boy is making unwanted advances at Maddie. She’s told him no multiple times, but he continues pursuing her romantically. Kissing between boy and girl.
Maddie’s parents’ pool business receives a series of pranks, some obnoxious, others dangerous. Maddie finds glass next to the pool. A girl collapses after inhaling chlorine fumes.
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