The question posed on the back of my galley copy of FLIP by Martyn Bedford asks "What does it mean to have a soul whose will to live knows no limits? " This question peeked my interest, as well as the personal letter from Wendy Lamb of Wendy Lamb Books, which mentioned how hot this book was at auction and how excited she is to be publishing it. The book did not disappoint!
As the story begins, Alex Gray wakes up to find himself in another boy's body. Suddenly, asthmatic, clarinet playing Alex finds himself inhabiting the body of Phillip Garamond or Flip, an athletic girl magnet. Alex says, "Being Flip was like playing the lead in a film about a special agent assigned to work undercover...Except in a movie the agent would be thoroughly prepared for the operation. Provided a dossier of information, told to memorize every detail of the false ID which had been created for him...Only then would he be sent out to the field...ready to handle any tricky situations without blowing his cover." Needless-to-say, Alex has a lot of trouble negotiating Flip's persona. He immediately tries to contact his mother who is 200 miles away. Her co-worker, who answers the call, thinks he's an evil prank caller, as does his best friend David, whom he tries to contact next. He begins to suspect that Alex is dead. When he steals money and takes a train back to his own home, he is apprehended by the police, after trying to make contact with his family. He finds out that Alex is in a persistent vegetative state and returns to Flip's home and parents, who worry that their son is mentally ill.
Alex is heartened by the idea that he might be able to find a way back into his own body, so that Flip can once again inhabit his. After doing some internet investigation, Alex makes contact with Rob who tells him he is a victim of psychic evacuation. At the moment near death, his soul moved into a new body. Most psychic evacuees, who inhabit a new body, have died in their previous incarnation. Alex is one of the few who may have a chance to reverse the process. Rob, also a psychic evacuee, takes Alex under his wing and tries to counsel him to accept his new body and move on. Alex, however, refuses to lose hope and continues to struggle to reclaim his former life.
Although this book is being billed by some as a new Freaky Friday, it is so much deeper than that.The author explores questions such as What is a soul? What happens to it when the host body dies? Bedford, who is the author of five novels for adults, also poses a detailed explanation as to how Alex came to inhabit Flip's body. This is his first young adult novel, but I would highly recommend this page turner for young and old alike.