Wednesday, May 5, 2021

46. Starfish by Lisa Fipps

read the BOOK
244 pgs.
Middle Grade CRF in Verse
Finished 5/5/2021
Goodreads rating: 4.56 - 1954 ratings
My rating: 5
Setting: contemporary Texas

First line/s:  "I step down into the pool.
The water is bathwater warm
but feels cool
compared to the blistering hot air.
Kick.  Gliiiiiiide.
Stroke.  Gliiiiiiide.
Side to side
and back again.
Dive under the surface.
Soar to the top.
Arch my back.
Flip. Flop.

As soon as I slip into the pool,
I am weightless.
For just a while."

My comments: The book is written in verse, beautiful verse, so it reads fast.  It tugs on the heart.  Ellie is an extremely large young girl, and has been bullied for being fat for as long as she can remember.  She is bullied horribly at school, but she is bullied even more horrendously at home by her mother and older brother.  Her father does the best he can to make her feel better, but it's not until he takes her for weekly visits to a therapist that she stops blaming herself and figures out how to stand up for herself.  She's a swimmer, and, luckily, has a pool and lives in Texas so she can swim every day.  I got so mad in places while reading this book ... do people really say super insulting things to peers, to strangers, to people that they see on the bus or in a restaurant?  Definitely a book to be read by middle schoolers and even better, to be used as a whole class book or read aloud.

Goodreads synopsis:  Ellie is tired of being fat-shamed and does something about it in this poignant debut novel-in-verse.
          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.

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