Thursday, December 14, 2017

The Goldfish Boy by Lisa Thompson

5 Stars

WARNING: After take one last peek at what I had written before posting, I realize you have to read about 117 pages before I actually get to anything about the book. #sorry.

I’m going to begin by saying that (in MY opinion) middle-grade has to be the hardest (fictional) genre to write. There’s just soooooo much that can be going on in this age range. Maybe they’ve already hit puberty, maybe they haven’t – maybe they have parents who let them watch R-rated movies, maybe they are still only allowed to watch Pixar flicks because they haven’t reached that magical number “13” (or ten-plus-three as young Matthew in our story here would say). I mean, there’s just no middle-ground when it comes to this in-between age. Even we parents are often lost thinking stuff like: “Am I really going to let this kid play GTA??? Isn’t that the one where he can earn money by being a pixelated drug dealer or pimp????” Only to find out that yes, that is the right game, but he and his buddies spend all their allowance buying these cards that give them fake money so they don’t have to do anything nefarious in order to drive DeLoreans. #ihavenoideawhatimdoingasaparent

This no idea what I’m doing state of child rearing is what led me to dabbling in more middle-grade books. It’s also what made me realize how hard it must be to write something that isn’t too babyish or too adult or too benign or too offensive. Mad props to the authors who can pull it off. Authors like Lisa Thompson here.

I’ll admit I was an insta-sell on wanting to read this as soon as I saw the comparison to . . . .

Rear Window is hands down my favorite movie of all time. Like I love it so much I am pretty sure I was able to channel all of my brain power and make it be on television one time when we just had switched over to satellite and I lost my DVR of it and I needed to get it re-recorded stat for my insomniac viewing pleasure. I used to fantasize about living in a place like L.B. Jefferies’ apartment . . . .

That didn’t end up happening, but I do have a sick fascination of driving around as the passenger in the dark during the holiday season and crossing my fingers for open doors and curtains so I can peep into people’s houses and see their Christmas decorations. #notsorry #arentyougladyoudontlivenearme

All that being said, a comparison to Rear Window is a major double-edged sword because if I hate it, I will hate it exponentially. Luckily for Ms. Thompson she had nothing to worry about.

The story here is of a young boy named Matthew who stopped going to school or outside or almost anywhere other than his room and the “office” of his family’s home. Matthew is no longer able to be around things he can’t guarantee are germ free – including things like Nigel the cat. Well, okay, Nigel the cat was probably always disgusting and hard to be around, but even that relationship has become more strained. Now - when he’s not cleaning, that is – Matthew passes the time watching the neighborhood from his two upstairs vantage points. It’s from there that he takes note of something very important . . . .

“12:55 p.m. That time was important. I don’t know why it stuck in my mind but it did, even without writing it down. At some point after 12:55 p.m. on that bright, scorching day, Teddy Dawson went missing.”

It’s now up to Matthew (and an unlikely assistant or two) to decipher all of Matthew’s observations in order to help the police solve the case of the missing toddler.

As I said before, Lisa Thompson really hit this one out of the park. Matthew’s OCD was soooooo believable and I never felt like I was being hit over the head about him being a little “different” for lack of a better term (I’m looking at YOU here Ginny Moon). His sleuthing was also realistic. Although he was playing a bit of amateur detective he wasn’t allowed to get in the way of the police, for obvious reasons, but he also had a compulsion to not let something happen to this little boy on his watch (and his reasoning makes sense, is hinted at/eventually explained throughout the book). Goldfish Boy is a book for kids and parents both to enjoy. It gets all the stars.

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