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The Flip Side

The Flip Side

by Andrew Matthews

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Andrew Matthews is the author of many books for young readers in his native England.

From the Hardcover edition.


Andrew Matthews is the author of many books for young readers in his native England.

From the Hardcover edition.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publishers Weekly
"The 15-year old narrator of Matthews's look at British teens coming to grips with gender roles, could have stepped out of a Nick Hornby novel, with his clever observations addressed directly to readers," PW wrote. Ages 12-up. (Jan.) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Robert Hunt is a 15-year-old boy who, like many other teenagers, is trying to make sense of not only society's views on sexuality, but also his own role as a teenage male. Through experimenting with the female gender in addition to finding himself in a Shakespearean play, Robert realizes the importance of being comfortable with one's self. Growing up in a small town in England, Robert has had an ordinary life. However, when forced to star as Rosalind in the play, As You Like It, the confused Robert begins to question the role of gender. The inexplicable and extraordinary feeling that arises when he plays Rosalind strangely makes him feel happy within himself. Quick to deny this sense of liberation, Robert seeks a confidant, Milena, who has also switched gender roles in the play. Coincidentally, Robert finds relief and reassurance in Milena, for she, too, has reservations about her own sexuality. Shortly after Milena's confession, Robert receives news that his best friend, Kevin, has been struggling with the same dilemma, for he has been hiding his homosexuality from himself, as well as everyone else. This reoccurring issue of gender in society causes Robert to accept Kevin for who he is. Told with honesty and humor, young readers will enjoy this novel, for it presents issues relative in the lives of many teenagers. Robert's search for himself and dedication to his friendships is admirable and inspiring under the lighthearted approach of showing the importance of knowing yourself. 2003, Random House Children's Books, 146 pp. Ages young adult. Reviewer: Amanda Fiegel
To quote the review of the hardcover in KLIATT, July 2003: This gender-bender YA novel is written by a British author of more than 50 books who had been a high school English teacher for many years before writing for young people. By page 10, we find ourselves with the main characters in an English class, talking about Shakespeare. "I reckon Shakespeare must have been some sort of perv, Miss." And why? "Well, he's got this girl making out she's a boy making out he's a girl. That's a bit iffy, isn't it?" And that's the beginning. When our hero Robert pretends to be Rosalind in the play, he realizes some side of himself he never knew existed, and he kind of likes her, er, him. Then the girl of his dreams, Milena, thinks he's special too once she sees him as Rosalind, and she encourages his cross-dressing. When Robert's parents go away for a weekend, he and Milena cross-dress to attend a party. Robert's father catches them kissing when he unexpectedly comes home early, and he's taken aback because here's Robert dressed as a girl kissing a boy. Explanations are in order. And explanations aren't so easily understood, by anyone. Robert can't understand why he enjoys being a girl; Milena doesn't know if she is attracted to Robert, or to Robert as a girl; and their friend Kevin just then gets the nerve to come out of his closet as a homosexual—what does it all mean? Kevin doesn't want to dress like a girl—he's a boy who likes other boys. Is Milena a girl who really likes other girls, or just Robert dressed as a girl? Not every teenager is ready to go into this labyrinth. But those who are will find this short novel intelligent and the characters endearing. And, anyway, didn'tShakespeare start it all? KLIATT Codes: JS—Recommended for junior and senior high school students. 2003, Random House, Dell Laurel-Leaf, 147p., Ages 12 to 18.
—Claire Rosser
Fifteen-year-old Robert Hunt is experiencing a mixed-up year in Crossleigh, England, where he has been assigned to play Rosalind in Shakespeare's As You Like It, opposite the lovely Milena, who is playing Orlando. As Matthews boldly, often humorously, explores gender roles and stereotypes, Rob wonders, "What makes gender such a serious issue and how come guys are so sensitive about it?" His English class struggles with the concept of "a boy being a girl being a boy being a girl." Rob finds himself intrigued, and when he puts on a dress, the Rosalind in Rob surfaces-and shines. Although Rob claims to have conquered his confusions, he is trying to make sense of the jumble in retrospect. His story is oddly believable, yet its occurrences seem extraordinarily coincidental, even devised, especially the father who declares, in almost the same breath, his homophobia and his unconditional love for his newly discovered as cross-dressing son. From an American television program featuring attractive gender-benders, through straight, lesbian, gay, and transgendered characters, to Rob's househusband dad, Matthews works to include everyone. Although Rob's confusions all wrap up neatly by the end, he warns readers to "hold on tight" because sex and love are complicated, mucky, and confusing-whatever your identity. Readers who like it will recommend it to everyone. VOYA Codes: 3Q 3P J S (Readable without serious defects; Will appeal with pushing; Junior High, defined as grades 7 to 9; Senior High, defined as grades 10 to 12). 2003, Delacorte, 176p,
— Cynthia Winfield
School Library Journal - School Library Journal
Gr 8-10-During the study of As You Like It, Robert Hunt is asked to do as was done in Shakespeare's time and play the female role of Rosalind, opposite his classmate Milena as Orlando. To his great surprise and confusion, Rob discovers that he likes dressing up as a woman, and, more importantly, he likes who he is as Rosalind: stronger and more confident than when he's just Rob. Thus begins his experimentation with cross-dressing and exploration of his own sexuality. While a book that helps teens come to grips with these issues is always welcome, The Flip Side takes the easy way out far too often to be effective. Rob is lucky that Milena also just happens to be confused, and the two become instant confidantes. Then, Rob's best friend conveniently reveals that he is gay. Another classmate throws a cross-dressing party, and it seems that many kids are fascinated by gender-bending. And, in the end, Rob concludes that he is not gay, and that what he feels for Milena is "the real thing." Teens who are actually struggling with their identity may not relate to the painless and facile process depicted here. Carol Plum-Ucci's What Happened to Lani Garver (Harcourt, 2002) or Nancy Garden's Annie on My Mind (Farrar, 1992) offer a more realistic view of teen life "outside the norm."-Ronni Krasnow, New York Public Library Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.

Product Details

Random House Children's Books
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
5.74(w) x 8.58(h) x 0.64(d)
Age Range:
12 Years

Meet the Author

Andrew Matthews is the author of many books for young readers in his native England.
From the Hardcover edition.

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