I read, I write, and I majored in German and Muggle Studies. my favorite genres are historical fiction, science fiction, and fantasy. Lookout for reviews of the YA and MG persuasions!
title: The Fourteenth Goldfish
author: Jennifer Holm
audience/genre: Middle Grade / contemporary/spec. fiction
published: by Random House Children's August 26th, 2014
Goodreads. Amazon. Barnes and Noble.
*note: I received an eARC through Netgalley from the publisher in exchange for honest feedback.
summary courtesy of Goodreads:
Believe in the possible . . . with this brilliantly quirky, thought-provoking novel from New York Times bestseller, three-time Newbery Honor winner Jennifer L. Holm
Galileo. Newton. Salk. Oppenheimer.
Science can change the world . . . but can it go too far?
Eleven-year-old Ellie has never liked change. She misses fifth grade. She misses her old best friend. She even misses her dearly departed goldfish. Then one day a strange boy shows up. He’s bossy. He’s cranky. And weirdly enough . . . he looks a lot like Ellie’s grandfather, a scientist who’s always been slightly obsessed with immortality. Could this pimply boy really be Grandpa Melvin? Has he finally found the secret to eternal youth?
With a lighthearted touch and plenty of humor, Jennifer Holm celebrates the wonder of science and explores fascinating questions about life and death, family and friendship, immortality . . . and possibility.
I don't remember how old I was when I started thinking about consequences. And I mean the big consequences. Not just, "what will happen if I don't do my homework? Or take out the trash?" Questions like, "What might happen is a human being were ever cloned successfully?" or, as this book focuses on, "What might happen if we could live forever?"
That's why I enjoyed this book so much--the main character, though young, was able to ponder this sort of question without it becoming too contrived or over-the-top. Her thinking felt genuine and it was easy to understand. Middle school is a common age, I think, to experience a funeral or wake or death of a loved one. It is suddenly real and it can be so impossible to grasp. Consequences and certainties make the world a scarier place. A book like this encourages thinking about the world but still sticks to a fun and quirky storyline.
The plot is relatively simple, and I wasn't ever bored. There isn't much unpredictability, but this book isn't meant to be a thriller. The voice and telling are simple and effective. There is no doubt in my mind that this book would appeal to young scientists in the making. Ellie is smart and curious about the world. She has to face the scary prospects of middle school, including one of the more painful and experiences: best friends growing suddenly distant.
There's room for new friends, too, though, and Ellie's usually taciturn but humorous friend Raj is a welcome addition. And then, of course, there is grandpa Melvin, who winds up making for a very convincing and self-centered teenager. The ending satisfies and despite its sweetness, did not make me roll my eyes.
I would recommend this book to school libraries and classrooms very strongly, not just because the Fourteenth Goldfish asks important questions, but because it asks them so well.
Plus, it was just plain fun!
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