The Flipside of Perfect

Inkyard. Apr. 2021. 304p. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9781335470447.
Gr 10 Up–Seventeen-year-old Adelaide Josephine Jepsen Beloise is better known as AJ or Della, depending on where she is and who she’s with. In Michigan with her mom, she’s AJ, the privileged, overachieving oldest of the Jepsen Triple Threat sisters. In Florida with her dad, she’s Della, the spoiled, laid-back baby of the Beloise family. When AJ’s little sister, Marnie, has nowhere else to turn, she crash-lands into Della’s summer family, and Della’s perfectly divided life becomes irrevocably tangled. But in the disorder, Della finds love, happiness, and the strength to be herself. Can this new Della go back to AJ’s old life? Though AJ/Della’s split life is initially confusing, Reinhardt creates an engaging picture of both selves, and readers will will sympathize with AJ and Della alike. AJ and Della’s families love her and one another other very much, and the slow burn enemies-to-lovers romance is filled with heart. Tough issues, such as teen pregnancy, cyberbulling, class differences, and alcoholism, are all addressed without being didactic. The white cast of characters are real, full of life, and flawed, which is why it’s disappointing that the only LGBTQ character in the story, Marnie, is characterized frequently as a hot mess (unrelated to her sexuality) and whose only romantic relationship in the story ends in betrayal. Readers looking for similar coming-of-age stories would be better served by Jandy Nelson’s I’ll Give You the Sun or Rebecca Barrow’s This Is What It Feels Like. Those seeking more diverse and nuanced romance should seek out Reinhardt’s Rebels Like Us.
VERDICT A sweet coming-of-age story and a tender romance marred by problematic representation.

Be the first reader to comment.

Comment Policy:
  • Be respectful, and do not attack the author, people mentioned in the article, or other commenters. Take on the idea, not the messenger.
  • Don't use obscene, profane, or vulgar language.
  • Stay on point. Comments that stray from the topic at hand may be deleted.
  • Comments may be republished in print, online, or other forms of media.
  • If you see something objectionable, please let us know. Once a comment has been flagged, a staff member will investigate.



We are currently offering this content for free. Sign up now to activate your personal profile, where you can save articles for future viewing