Flip Turns

Jolly Fish. Sept. 2022. 240p. pap. $14.99. ISBN 9781631636356.
Gr 5 Up–Thirteen-year-old Maddie’s life revolves around the family-owned swimming pool. When vandalism and other acts of sabotage plague the family business, Maddie and her best friend Ez are determined to sleuth out the truth and discover who is responsible for the incidents. Can they figure it out before Maddie’s family is forced to sell to a large fitness chain? The suspects pile up. Friendships, identity, family pressure to succeed, competition, anxiety, sexual harassment, blossoming healthy romantic connections, and class issues are all explored in this fast-paced read. Debut author Arguelles writes sympathetic characters and dialogue that rings true and genuine to the tween experience. Maddie and her friends are just the right amount of awkward and uncertain while simultaneously operating under a heightened sense of urgency that is entirely age appropriate. Communications via social media sprinkled throughout the chapters add extra texture and authenticity. The author also handles the important topic of consent; this plot line offers a discussion opportunity regarding Maddie’s situation, as well as her confusion, fear, and reluctance to tell her family. Healthy relationships are also depicted as a counterbalance. While readers will likely anticipate the ultimate perpetrator of the central crimes, they will enjoy the ride and find the outcome satisfying, organic, and plausible. Maddie is white, and the cast of secondary characters is diverse.
VERDICT A recommended purchase for tween collections where swimming, mysteries, and summer romances are popular.

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