Goodreads: The Fourteenth Goldfish
Eleven-year-old Ellie is doing her best to find her way through middle school. She never expected her grandfather, Melvin, to show up as a thirteen-year-old boy and attend school with her. But it seems that Melvin has discovered a way to reverse aging. And suddenly, Ellie realizes science is a lot cooler than she’d thought. But are there some boundaries science should not cross?
“I’m a jellyfish glowing in the dark sea, bright and brilliant, just waiting to be discovered.”
The Fourteenth Goldfish is a fun story that imagines what might happen if your grandfather suddenly discovered the secret to aging. The answer? A whole lot of trouble! Ellie is trying to navigate the perils of middle school and that is hard enough without her weird grandfather Melvin showing up as a thirteen-year-old. Melvin still wears sweater vests, imagines all Goth kids are trouble, and cares so little for public opinion that he’ll wear Ellie’s mom’s clothes when he does not want to do laundry. The weirdest part? It’s unclear if Melvin is in charge or if he now has to listen to his own daughter since she’s the adult. Things are messy, but Ellie has the spunk and the spirit to make it through.
Jennifer L. Holm layers her story so it is not only a story of a middle schooler trying to figure out life, but also a sort of espionage story. Melvin can no longer get into his lab to access the jellyfish that allowed him to reverse age himself. Instead of giving up, he drags Ellie and her friend into a series of daring attempts to break in and “steal” his scientific work. He’s probably a terrible role model, but that’s not the point. The point is that scientists persevere in the face of failure and that science can end up being terribly exciting.
The Fourteenth Goldfish is an upbeat tale that celebrates life, family, possibility. It is sure to charm readers of all ages with its determined protagonist, her sassy grandfather, and their crazy exploits. It’s the kind of book that seamlessly blends heart and humor, and makes you wish the story did not have to end so soon.