Tuesday, September 29, 2020

My Life in the Fish Tank by Barbara Dee

Thanks to @kidlitexchange, @simonandschuster and @barbaradeebooks for a review copy of My Life in the Fish Tank - out now! Barbara Dee is killing it with her poignant middle-grade novels, so you won't want to miss this one.

Zinny is used to her home life being pretty wild since she has three siblings, but when her older brother, Gabriel, is in a car accident, things at home completely change. Gabriel is admitted to a hospital to get his bipolar disorder under control, and Zinny feels horrible that she told an adult about Gabriel's strange behaviors. But now her parents don't want Zinny to tell anyone about Gabriel, so Zinny doesn't know what to talk to her friends about. They keep talking about boys they have crushes on, but Zinny isn't interested in that. She loves science, so she starts spending her lunch period in the science lab with Ms. Molina, her favorite teacher. Zinny starts using science as her outlet, to help her stay as calm as she possibly can, considering both her family life AND social life are in shambles. Zinny just wants Gabriel to come home, for her parents to understand, and to make it into the summer science camp her teacher nominates her for; but all of that seems like too big of a miracle.

Barbara Dee also wrote "Maybe He Just Likes You", about a middle-grade girl not liking the male attention she is getting. That book handled this age and this struggle so realistically, and "My Life in the Fish Tank" is written with that same level of reliability. Tackling the tough issues of mental health, family relationships, and changing friendships, this is a must-read for any middle-grade reader (and up!).

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