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review 2015-01-04 00:00
The Fourteenth Goldfish
The Fourteenth Goldfish - Jennifer L. Holm


I really wanted to like this book. The person who recommended it to me is a very dear friend, and a wonderful soul. I tried so hard...

This is a children's book. I don't agree with it, but some people say allowances have to be made for that. In any case, if you decide to read it, keep that in mind.

Synopsis: Ellie is an 11 year-old girl with artistic parents who is currently suffering a break-up from her best friend, and doesn't like the change. One day, her grandfather, Melvin, appears at her house as a 13 year-old boy, announcing he's discovered the cure for aging. As Ellie and her mother adapt to their new situation, significant and deep changes are wrought in all their lives.

Overall enjoyment: Meh. I tried, I really did. And I suppose I would have liked it less if I hadn't tried.

Plot: The idea is really interesting, but it's poorly executed. There's no development, no climax, and everything is a bit too obvious. The chapters are very disconnected from each other.

Characters: They don't feel like people at all, they're walking clichés. Ellie is the only one with a bit of life in her; I'll admit she's very well constructed. But all the others are stereotypes: the grumpy old man, the artsy-hipster mom, the goth kid...

World/setting: Again, it's like she did the bare minimum. It doesn't play a big part on the story, though.

Writing style: A bit sloppy. The book feels like a first draft. It feels unfinished, and, up to a point, that's what bothers me the most. I kept thinking "this could be such a good book with a bit of rewriting and editing!" The first chapter is really good, sweet and interesting, with a bit of humor. The rest is just a bunch of disjointed phrases thrown together. And it really bothered me how obvious things were. I don't mean the suspense of the story, but the characters' feelings and motivations; she kept spelling them out all the time. It may be a children's book, but kids aren't stupid. They're perfectly capable of understanding those things, you don't have to explain that to them.

Representation: She didn't specify anybody's ethnicity. There was a kid named Raj, with a brother named Andalos, but she doesn't even describe them. And everyone is cis, straight and able-bodied.

Political correctness: This book was made to get kids interested in science, so that's a plus. It's even more specifically addressed at girls, with a girl as a main character, so that's a double plus. I just wish it had been better written. Something I enjoyed immensely, though, was the fact that she didn't try to force romance onto the kids. Ellie meets a boy, and they become friends, but not a couple. I can't tell you how satisfying that was. And how uncomfortable I was while reading, sure that, despite the fact that this is an 11 year-old girl, they would end up kissing, or something.

This one was not entirely bad, just disappointing. Especially after it started off so strong.

Up next: Yes Please, by Amy Poehler

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review 2014-08-29 18:24
The Fourteenth Goldfish - Jennifer L. Holm

4.5 stars. 

This one is a short, but gorgeous book about growing up, about science, about family, and a bit about goldfish.

I absolutely loved the book, though I have rated it 4.5 and not 5 for one reason: The Grandfather, I know, I know he is technically an adult, but looks like a teenager now and is under the care of his daughter. He had good times (like when he taught Ellie science, or tried to steal that jellyfish) but he also had times that I just hated him. For how he acted with his daughter, how he embarrassed her a few times, how he never seemed happy with her choices (she picked theatre, while he wanted her to get PhDs). I wish he could just be happy for her, see that she is happy, that she has a good life, with a great boyfriend.

I loved the premise. Grandfather finds a cure for old age, and turns in a teenager. Things happen and he is now under the care of his daughter. I really liked that, the thought that a jellyfish might hold the answers to old age and fountain of youth. And I also liked the idea of someone old turning back to a teenager. Especially in this age with all the things that are so new and that older people don't always know or use.

I loved Ellie, she was a wonderful character and I just loved seeing her growing up, from a kid who didn't know what she liked, who was wondering if she was at the wrong place (both her parents love theatre, she not so much), to a kid who knew she loves science, that she takes after her Grandfather, that she has a place now. 
She loses one friend, but luckily finds a new one. One who doesn't ditch her for other things. 

I loved the ending (my favourites: Mom + Ben, the slippers (read and you find out their meaning)). 

I would truly recommend this book to everyone. Me? I will be buying this one when it comes out in paperback, since I just got to have this on my bookshelves. :)

Review first posted at http://twirlingbookprincess.com/

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review 2014-08-29 00:00
The Fourteenth Goldfish
The Fourteenth Goldfish - Jennifer L. Holm I loved the voice of the protagonist as she tries to figure out what to do about grandpa. Honestly, what do you do with a teenage grandpa who wants the world to see his genius at the expense of everything? I loved that the author deftly configures the fate of mankind with the frozen remains of a jellyfish and a girl who is trying to decide what she wants in her life.

I received this book from NetGalley for an honest review.
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review 2014-08-18 00:00
The Fourteenth Goldfish
The Fourteenth Goldfish - Jennifer L. Holm I received a free kindle copy of The Fourteenth Goldfish by Jennifer L. Holm from NetGalley for fair review.

I gave it five stars because it was entertaining, evocative & thought provoking. It also brought up moral-ethical issues about 'the fountain of youth'.

...."a toilet that's always getting clogged. I secretly think it's haunted by all the fish that were flushed down it."

It's written from the point of view of Ellie who is a precociously bright eleven year old. Her mother is a drama teacher. One night she unexpectedly Had to pick up her grandfather from the police station. She returned home to a babysitter that quit with no notice & brought with her an impudent teenage boy about thirteen.

"Middle school is like one of those highway restrooms in the middle of nowhere. It's dirty & smelly & it's crowded with strange people."

"Things are a little different with my grandfather living with us." It was about his coming of age, again.

Discussing the progress in science, Ellie's mother Lissa is surprised when Ellie says: "There's a lot of romance', I insist. She looks confused. 'Really? Who are they in love with?' 'Possibility.'

"The music pounds like a pulse through the floor, & it's so loud, you can't think. It feels like the undertow of the ocean, & I'm just swept along, everthing reduced to senses."

I agree with this quote: Grandpa Melvin quotes Salk: "Our greatest responsibility is to be good ancestors."

Link to purchase: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00IQRN4PW?ie=UTF8&creativeASIN=B00IQRN4PW&linkCode=xm2&tag=injoslifethin-20
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review 2014-08-16 00:00
The Fourteenth Goldfish
The Fourteenth Goldfish - Jennifer L Holm I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

"We knew the world would not be the same. A few people laughed. A few people cried. Most people were silent."
-Oppenheimer (Loc 476 of ARC)

That's right, that's an Oppenheimer quote from a middle grade book. This isn't any old middle grade book about a girl and her goldfish (admit it, you kinda thought it was). It's a deeply moving story about a girl, Ellie and her grandfather Melvin. Melvin is a scientist who just made a groundbreaking discovery. He discovered the fountain of youth! He is now her grandfather trapped in a 13 year old's body. As you can imagine, hilarity ensues. But this isn't some comical joke of a novel.

First of all, the book is about science. Technical details, famous scientists name, and controversial issues were all discussed. Keep in mind, in case you're forgetting, this is a middle grade novel. I can't tell you how happy this made me. I mean, middle school was the setting, but Ellie was considering really great topics. For instance, the issue of scientific discovery. Oppenheimer's Manhattan Project (which I didn't learn about until High School, and Ellie is learning it in middle school because of her grandfather), created the atomic bomb. Was the world ready for it? What were the ramifications? How was his discovery received? Did the scientists eat burritos while discussing ideas?

The characters were hilarious. The majority of the humor came from Melvin, Ellie's grandfather-turned 13 year old, who also turns into her new babysitter. He wears her moms leggings because he hates doing laundry. He steals soy sauce packets from the Chinese restaurant (my grandfather does that with saltine crackers). Basically, he's laugh out loud funny. The book is a fast read, and I was instantly captivated by Ellie and her scientific mind. I loved how the author didn't dumb things down for the audience. In fact, she did the opposite. She encourages young readers to look up these famous scientists, and their discoveries! Marie Curie, Einstein, Galileo, Oppenheimer, and Stalk are some of the many that are listed and referenced in the book. Not to mention, at the end there's a wonderful "for further research" page for kids who want to quench what curiosity was piqued from reading the book.

So thank you Jennifer Holm! I will be recommended this to my nephew and niece, as well as my students I tutor. Those who like and those who don't like science, will find this a pleasurable and funny read. I wouldn't e surprised if this wins awards.
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