Review: The Fourteenth Goldfish by Jennifer L. Holm

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?

I recieved an advance copy of this book from the publisher via Netgalley for purposes of review. This does not impact my thoughts about the book in any way. 

Expected release date: August 26th, 2014 

I’ve never met a Jennifer L. Holm book that I didn’t like. I’ve read most of the BABYMOUSE series, TURTLE IN PARADISE, the MAY AMELIA series, PENNY FROM HEAVEN and the SQUISH series. I wrote a post about a few of those books awhile ago.

So many of her books are great, but with THE FOURTEENTH GOLDFISH I might have found my favorite Holm book, though it does have to compete with OUR ONLY MAY AMELIA.

Honestly, this book truly reminded me why I love middle-grade fiction. I often feel as though what I read that has been released recently is either written for adults and not children, or just whimsical and weird to the point where it’s unenjoyable for me. Even the whimsicality in books I do enjoy is a little wearing at times. In THE FOURTEENTH GOLDFISH, Jennifer L. Holm creates a story that is heartwarming, hilarious, entertaining and teaches some truly wise lessons in a masterfully plotted way. I couldn’t ask any more from any middle-grade or YA fiction book.

This book explores many different themes, such as theater, science, death, life and more. I loved the way that Ellie was able to connect with another person, her new friend Raj, and her grandfather in an entirely different way. Throughout the course of the story, she learns more about what science is and how it changes the world. Despite this fact, the science aspect of this book is not overbearing at all and bears a very powerful message at the end of the story. Everything builds up very nicely and pace was stable.

The relationships in this book were awesome as well. I liked Ellie’s developing friendship with Raj, even though at times Raj seemed a little older than he actually was. I also loved how it didn’t take over the story and was just an underlying tone. Her friendship with her grandfather, her mother’s boyfriend, her mom and her dad were also great. The characters were all fully fleshed out but it was the relationships between all of them that brought the story to life.

I feel like this book ended very nicely. It’s a little bit of a cliffhanger, but nothing that is too stressful. This book is listed as a stand-alone as it is right now–and I do like it like that, but if Holm comes out with another book in this series I will reading it for sure.

Overall, I would definitely recommend this to 10+ girls and all middle-grade girls, the one that aren’t interested in science and especially the ones that are. I completely loved this book and fans of Jennifer L. Holm will not be disappointed. 4.5 stars.


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