"Outside a dog a book is man's best friend, inside a dog it is too dark to read!" -Groucho Marx========="The person, be it gentleman or lady, who has not pleasure in a good novel, must be intolerably stupid." -Jane Austen========="I don’t believe in the kind of magic in my books. But I do believe something very magical can happen when you read a good book."-JK Rowling========"I spend a lot of time reading." -Bill Gates=========“Ahhh. Bed, book, kitten, sandwich. All one needed in life, really.” -Jacqueline Kelly=========

Thursday, July 13, 2023

Review and quotes: STARFISH

Starfish by Lisa Fipps

Book Beginnings/First Line Friday quote:
I step into the pool.
The water is bathwater warm
but feels cool
compared to the blisteringly hot air/
Kick. Gliiiiiide.
Stroke. Gliiiiide.//
I am weightless.
For just a while.
Friday56 quote:
It's never a good sign when
they pick the fat girl first in gym.
We're playing tug-o-war.
War is a fitting name since 
middle school's one big battlefield


Ever since Ellie wore a whale swimsuit and made a big splash at her fifth birthday party, she’s been bullied about her weight. To cope, she tries to live by the Fat Girl Rules–like “no making waves,” “avoid eating in public,” and “don’t move so fast that your body jiggles.” And she’s found her safe space–her swimming pool–where she feels weightless in a fat-obsessed world. In the water, she can stretch herself out like a starfish and take up all the room she wants. It’s also where she can get away from her pushy mom, who thinks criticizing Ellie’s weight will motivate her to diet. Fortunately, Ellie has allies in her dad, her therapist, and her new neighbor, Catalina, who loves Ellie for who she is. With this support buoying her, Ellie might finally be able to cast aside the Fat Girl Rules and starfish in real life–by unapologetically being her own fabulous self.

Review: Starfish by Lisa Fipps won a Printz Honor in 2022. It is a novel-in-verse whose target audience is the young end of YA, say 6-8th graders, though kids as young as ten and as old as fifteen would likely enjoy or relate to it.

When I was young I was the largest kid in my class. How do I know? They weighed us and made us put our weight on a paper to be displayed in front of the whole class. I wasn't huge but I was certainly embarrassed, even as a third grader, to be singled out for this distinction. Later that year I overheard a conversation between a doctor and my mother about my weight. The doctor's suggestions centered around depriving me, but not other people in my family, of treats and desserts. I pictured myself eating a carrot while everyone munched on cake or cookies. Not only was I the largest kid in my class, I was the only fat person in my family, which brought me to tears with the shame of it. Often during meals if I wanted seconds or between meals if I wanted a snack my mother would remind me that it wasn't a good idea to eat/want more. I got pretty good at sneaky eating. I didn't want my mother to know and then have her make another comment about my weight.

As I started reading Starfish, I realized I was the Ellie in my family and it broke my heart for her and for young me. Ellie was always chubby but instead of siding with her and quieting the teasing from siblings, Ellie's mother fat shamed her-- putting her on diet after diet; weighing Ellie once a week; inventorying the food in the house so none could be eaten without Mom knowing; depriving Ellie of activities until she thinned down. I cried and cried for Ellie and for the memory of my fat-shamed days.

Thankfully Ellie's dad accepted her and got her a therapist who helped Ellie speak up in her own defense. Thankfully, also, for a friend Catalina and her family, who were loving and accepting, modeling healthy family interactions.

In the end Ellie doesn't lose weight, she just gains self-acceptance and demands to be treated in a respectful way from everyone. 

In the novel-in-verse format Starfish is an incredibly fast read. I nearly finished it in one sitting. This is a powerful book on a serious topic. It broke my heart but stitched it back together.

5 stars.

Book Beginnings on Friday is hosted by Rose City Reader. First Line Friday is hosted by Reading is My Super Power. Share the opening quote from current book.The Friday56 is hosted at Freda's VoiceFind a quote from page 56 to share. Visit these two websites to participate. Click on links to read quotes from books other people are reading. It is a great way to make blog friends and to get suggestions for new reading material.

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