Sunday, July 19, 2020

My Life in the Fish Tank By Barbara Dee - ADVISABLE

My Life in the Fish Tank By Barbara Dee, 320 pages. Aladdin Simon and Schuster, 2020. $18

Language: PG (3 swears 0 ‘f’); Mature Content: G; Violence: PG (peril)



12yo Zinny loves science - well, she especially loves her science teacher Ms. Molina. Currently Zinny’s family is a bit upended - her oldest brother Gabriel, off to college, has been in an automobile accident, and as events unravel, her parents discover he’s been diagnosed with bi-polar disorder and they have placed him in a residential treatment center. Telling Zinny (and her other siblings) to keep this news private her parents feel this is the best way for the family to cope, so Zinny has no one to share her troubles with, her best friends are frustrated, and even Ms. Molina can tell that something is wrong.

Tackling the effect of mental illness on a family, Barbara Dee has written another compelling and emotional novel.  While Gabriel’s problem seems all consuming, Zinny is still having to navigate middle school relationships, school and taking care of her family. Her parents are not managing well, and Scarlet, Zinny’s 16yo sister isn’t stepping up, so Zinny is the one to pull things together (weird that the family had an account at the local grocery store - do stores still do that?).  I loved her teacher - she doesn’t pry, just does her best to give Zinny a safe space, and she has helpful friends, and not-so-helpful friends.

Lisa Librarian

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