Saturday, July 29, 2017

In Search of Juli Baker

I've been getting a flurry of letters regarding Flipped from readers in Vietnam. 

I also learned that the Flipped movie was #5 at the box office in Korea last week. The movie was released in the US in August 2010, but hey, if you missed it here, you can catch it in theaters now in S. Korea. I don't know if the audio is translated, or if there are subtitles. Either way, how fun would it be to watch the movie in a theater there?

Why is it showing there now? I have no answer for that, either. The translated book has been available in Korea since 2005 (and through two different publishers) so maybe the success of the book has led to the showing of the film? 

Or maybe Flipped is just slowly making its way around the Pacific Rim.  I know that it's big in the Philippines. Some of my most passionate fans are from the Philippines. One teacher in particular is always ribbing me online about writing a sequel to the book. No explanation as to why I haven't written one is sufficient. He is relentless, but in a cute and humorous way.

Which brings me back to Vietnam. Last week I received an email about Flipped from a teen there. The letter was sweet and funny, but it also posed some really interesting questions and thoughts - ones that I want to share with you.

Let me set the stage by saying that the letter writer is a teen boy/young man, of sixteen. He points out that he was born in the same year that Flipped came out. He has watched the movie, read the book and "checked everything about Flipped and you and your books on Wiki and every fanblog."

So this isn't a simple case of 'When's the sequel?' He did his homework. And yet, he is not satisfied with knowing the whys of my not having written one. He summed it up by stating "The only thing that's sadder than a bad ending is an unfinished happy ending."

I want to grab him by the shoulders and say, No! Not true! How can you say that? An open-ended happy ending is...wonderful. It's full of hope and dreams and possibility! It makes you feel...alive. Like the future is yours to create!

He confessed to being a little obsessed with Juli Baker. Actually, what he said was, "I HAVE A CRUSH on your Juli Baker character. And I really hope that my girlfriend in the future would be someone like Julie." (LOL + 3 smilies.)

Do you love this guy, or what? I know I do.

But then his letter went deeper. Actually, a lot deeper. I am going to quote it here because any explanation or condensation of what he said won't do justice to his actual words. Please keep in mind that English is not his native language. 

It has been more than 15 years since you wrote “Flipped”. The world has change a lot since 15 years. Iphone, Internet appears, buildings are built. People start to looks at the phone’s light more than to meet other people in the proper light. And I start to wonder: “Is any girl like Julie really existed in this 2017 world?” And if that girl‘s really existed then what will she do? Will “the 2017’s Julie” keep climbing to another Sycamore tree? Or she would climb on top of some abandoned building to feel the world instead? Or somehow she would give up and just be normal to the world- the world with Ipod, Facebook,… ? Or ”2017 Julie Bakers” still be iridescent in her own freaking way?

    Okay, if you didn't already, now you love him, right? These are great questions to ponder. These are reflections on our world and how we interact with one another.

    Are things so fast and fleeting and on-the-surface now that we don't spend time truly knowing each other, let alone ourselves?

    Are we losing our iridescence?

    I need a tree to climb. I want to be wrapped in the arms of nature and think. No iPhone buzzing, no computer interrupting. I want to reflect on love and loss, tides rising and falling, and how no matter how far apart we live, we're really all neighbors looking to share a sunrise.  


    Shaina said...

    Light is a powerful symbol on SO many levels--nature, religion, relationships, philosophy, etc. I love the comment about a phone's light vs. the proper light, and all of that on top of the idea of being an iridescent person. These are good deep layers of light to think about. How do I develop my own iridescence? Because obviously it takes some cultivating. So far my methods are similar to Juli's tree-climbing and sunrise-watching. The key is spending as much time with the light as possible, whether it's a symbolic light or a more literal light (like the sunrise). After soaking up all of that light, the next step is to shine it out! Share it with a friend. If you ask me, gathering and then sharing light with others helps us see others in the "proper light."

    Ryan said...

    I'm still fascinated that Flipped is so big in Korea now. Now?!

    As for people being so connected online.... those people DO exist, but you'll never find them online or on Facebook or anything like that! You gotta find them the old fashioned way, I suppose. In a park, at a restaurant, on a hiking trail or climbing a tree or wherever those kind of girls go to roost. =)

    Unknown said...

    Dear Wendelin Van Draanen,

    We are in the middle of reading your amazing book called Flipped, and we are writing to you because we have a couple of questions to ask you, and to tell you a few things we are hoping that will happen later on in the book.
    A couple of questions we would like to ask you are first of all, we wonder if Bryce will ever like Juli because he seems starting to show feelings for her, such as when he threw out the eggs and she found out that he had been doing that ever since she first gave them to him. He felt really bad for her, because she was giving him free eggs and had missed out on around a hundred dollars. He also felt bad for her when they cut down the sycamore tree and she was devastated. Another question we have is will Juli will ever forgive Bryce about the eggs because she used to really like him and she is really angry at him and she has gone through so much that we think she will never look the same at him again. The last question we have is will Bryce and Juli ever start dating because she used to like him, he kinda likes her now, she almost hates him, and somehow there might be a way that they get together.
    When we look back on this book on how far we have read, we like the way you put each chapter into both the main character’s perspectives, because it shows a lot about their own personality and makes everything more interesting. We also don’t like the way that Juli hates Bryce as soon as Bryce likes Juli. But then again, if Juli didn’t hate Bryce and get all emotional, then he would never realize his feelings for her. I wonder if Bryce will ever do anything to show to Juli that he is really sorry about what he has done to her for most of his life.
    A mental picture that is really fixed in our heads that stands out above all the others is when Juli describes what it’s like being up high in the sycamore tree and seeing the sunset. With the twisted branches grabbing at the clouds, the sun burning in the night sky. The brisk air felt cold on her skin. Juli felt as though she is on top of the world, and she now understands life to the fullest. We really liked this image because it showed a different view of her personality, and we like sunsets and it also shows her relationship with the tree.
    Since we are nearly a halfway through the novel, we believe that maybe Bryce and Juli will get together, and that Bryce will give Juli either a tree or a new dog to cheer her up when he finds out. We don’t exactly know now, but we are having a fun time predicting.
    When we first started reading, we wondered how their love-hate relationship would turn out. Now we know that the roles have switched and now Bryce likes her and Juli hates him. We think that in the future, that they will end up with a romantic relationship and actually get together. We never thought that Bryce’s dad would call him a wimp because really parents don’t normally call their children names like that.
    We really like this book because there is a lot of events that make us question what is going to happen next. We never know when we turn the page what is going to happen, because almost every event surprises us. We hope that you end up writing a sequel to this one, because many people including us would love to read more of your works!
    Marissa and Kaitlyn

    Wendelin Van Draanen said...

    Dear Marissa and Kaitlyn,
    Thank you for the comment. I'm glad Flipped has inspired you to write to me, and that you like it enough to want a sequel. I actually added a section to the anniversary edition (the one with the orange edge on the front cover) that explains why I haven't written one. I hope you'll find a copy of that edition and check it out. And I hope you see this message. I'm glad I saw yours. YOu have a better chance of hearing back from me if you write to me at my website (just type in my name, you'll find it).
    Anyway, thanks for reading Flipped and for writing to me.
    Careful crushing!