If any of you are 70’s movie buffs, you might remember the award-nominated film “Heaven Can Wait” with Warren Beatty and Julie Christie, which was a remake of the 1941 classic “Here Comes Mr. Jordan.” In the 1978 movie, the soul of a Los Angeles Rams quarterback is accidentally taken away from his body by an over-anxious angel before he was supposed to die. Therefore the angel puts him in the body of someone else so he can finish out his life.
Flip could be considered a YA version of that story, in which 14-1/2 year old Alex Gray wakes up one day to find himself inside the body of Philip “Flip” Garamond. The only problem is, the body of Alex isn’t quite dead yet – he is in a coma after a car accident. In this case, an angel is not the cause of the soul switch; rather, it is the result of a phenomenon that supposedly occasionally occurs after death called “psychic evacuation” or PE. It seems so hard for Alex to believe and yet, he muses, if souls can go to heaven, why couldn’t they go somewhere else? Alex/Flip feels so lonely and alienated until he finds a website for other PE victims that offers support:
“For evacuated psyches, it can be a hard, lonely world out there, where no one believes or understand what we’ve been through and will go through for the rest of our new existences. To live out your days in corporeal exile is a bewildering journey of loss and grief for what you’ve had to leave behind, combined with alienation from what you’ve become. You’ve been ripped from your body your old life, your loved ones, and thrust into someone else’s. Not to mention the guilt you’re bound to feel over the soul that has been cast aside to make way for yours.”
For most PEs, there is no way back. But Alex’s evacuation was a mistake because his body is not yet dead. Can he figure out how to reverse the process?
Evaluation: I love the Warren Beatty movie, and this YA and modernized adaptation also works well, with Flip’s friends struggling to figure out why Flip is acting so unlike himself. This is a fast-paced and heart-warming story you won’t want to put down until you finish.
Published in the U.S. by Wendy Lamb Books, an imprint of Random House Children’s Books, a division of Random House, Inc., 2011