Published by Feiwel & Friends on June 7th 2016
Genres: young adult, contemporary
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Lou Brown is one of the fastest swimmers in the county. She’s not boasting, she really is. So things are looking pretty rosy the day of the Olympic time-trials. With her best mate Hannah by her side, Lou lines up by the edge of the pool, snaps her goggles on and bends into her dive…
Everything rests on this race. It’s Lou’s thing.
… or it was. She comes dead last and to top it all off Hannah sails through leaving a totally broken Lou behind.
Starting again is never easy, particularly when you’re the odd-one out in a family of insanely beautiful people and a school full of social groups way too intimidating to join. Where do you go from here? Finding a new thing turns out to be the biggest challenge Lou’s ever faced and opens up a whole new world of underwater somersaults, crazy talent shows, bitchy girls and a great big load of awkward boy chat.
Lou Brown guides us through the utter humiliation of failure with honesty, sass and a keen sense of the ridiculous. This girl will not be beaten.
This is going to be a pretty short review, because I just don’t have that much to say. Goldfish had a lot of potential, but it just didn’t live up to much of it. Basically, the author has a really great voice, but the story itself and the writing was just annoying and weak. Annoying in that there were a lot of comma splices and flow issues, and weak in that the story premise didn’t really work for me.
The swimming plot came off forced to me. I loved the idea of a book about swimming, but the whole synchronized swimming, Britain’s Hidden Talent, sneaking into an aquarium and hitting your head on a shark tank, then going viral on Youtube story just seemed janky. It didn’t work and felt very high school creative writing class. Like the author had to search high and low for a plot to fit with the swimming theme.
The idea of a synchronized swimming team making it on Britain’s Got Talent in the first place is kind of laughable. And then to have the tank fall apart in the parking lot…just how slapstick are we going to get here before it becomes unbelievable? Edit: So then I Googled to be sure, and it turns out there actually WAS a synchronized swimming team on BGT. And they made the final. But the point still stands. It did not work in the context of the narrative. The author did not convince me that it could actually happen. It was too…silly. Not to mention that it would not be that easy for a competitive swimmer to convert to a synchro swimmer. Synchronized swimming is REALLY difficult. The breathing is super difficult. It uses different muscles and requires different body control.
But on the other hand, the voice was lovely and humorous, and I really connected with the protagonist, Lou. I connected with her stuggles to fit in in high school, and make friends after her best friend went off to an Olympic training school. So there were parts of the book that I did like, and though I had issues with the writing mechanics, it was still pretty readable.
I’m not sure if I would recommend this. I’d like to read something else this author writes, because I like her voice, but this book overall just didn’t work for me. This is one of those books that is just not very memorable and I feel like a reader’s time could be better spent elsewhere on a more exciting book.