Publisher: Listening Library
Series: The Fourteenth Goldfish #1
Narrator: Georgette Perna
Edition: Audiobook, 3 Hours 30 Minutes
Genre: Middle-Grade Science Fiction
Purchase: Amazon / Audible / Barnes & Noble
Rating: 3/5 Stars
Believe in the possible…with this brilliantly quirky, thought-provoking novel from New York Times best seller, three-time Newbery Honor winner Jennifer L. Holm
Galileo. Newton. Salk. Oppenheimer. Science can change the world…but can it go too far?
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?
With a lighthearted touch and plenty of humor, Jennifer Holm celebrates the wonder of science and explores fascinating questions about life and death, family and friendship, immortality…and possibility.
The Fourteenth Goldfish is a cute story about a young girl who is moving up into middle school and all the changes that brings but also dealing with her grandfather, who is more than a little eccentric. It has a focus on science, life, and friendship, and overall I liked it though it had some flaws.
Ellie is an 11-year-old faced with the faced with the task of moving into middle school, but she finds herself with a new companion on the journey, her grandfather. Melvin has managed to tap into a process of reverse aging that has made him a 70-year-old man within 13-year-old boy’s body. Much of my issue with the book resides with these two. Ellie has a rather unconvincing voice for someone her age, it comes off too young at times, and Melvin personality and demeanor towards others can be really abrasive. I do like the bond that these two share, but ultimately I disliked Melvin’s somewhat narrow vision of the world around him. He can be mean to those who don’t deserve it and rude simply because he doesn’t take the time to view things outside his perspective. He does, however, support Ellie’s desire to learn more about science, and helps her embrace the changes that are occurring in her life.
Where this book shines is in the subject matter. It deals with family, friendship, life, and death in a rather interesting way. We see Ellie moving passed a friendship that has sadly grown distant and struggling to feel a part of something when Melvin opens up new pathways. I also like that there is some focus on family supporting each other, though I think this could have been a little better since Melvin spends a good chunk of the book being unsupportive. But the focus on science and what it means to live life is the winner. Ellie becomes excited to see all the things that science is capable of and wants to know more about everything she can, she has a drive that is really admirable. She asks tough questions about the nature of science and it’s outcomes, taking note of the danger of ignoring the negative outcomes but still being excited to move forward with her new passion. I think these questions, which are raised in the last half of the book so I don’t want to mention them and spoil something, are perfect for knowledge-hungry kids who want to explore subjects as vast as science can be. It shows that it’s not enough to discover and create, we must also look at the consequences and take them into account.
I am hopeful that the second book continues to expound on the aspect of curiosity and that it strengthens the characters and their connections to each other.