Hello and happy Wednesday. I’ve been trying to up my middle-grade game for some time now, but I’ve discovered that as a reader I’m sort of prejudging books in this age range. I say this because it’s happened to me a few times now that I’m overwhelmed by how much I end up liking a middle-grade novel as if I had originally thought I wouldn’t. I know that’s a “me” thing, and I know that the more I read middle-grade, the less prejudiced I’ll be towards it. Recently, for example, I read The Fourteenth Goldfish by Jennifer L. Holm and I was seriously amazed, so much so that I read the whole thing in one sitting.
I read this book on December 22nd, 2019 and gave it four stars. Per middle-grade fashion, it is a quick and easy read, and the chapters are really short. I’ve realized that the reason why I like short chapters is the fact that I feel encouraged to keep reading the next one, and then the next, until, before I realize it, I’m done with the book.
The main reason why I really enjoyed this novel is the fact that it subverts stereotypes or tropes that are present even in middle-grade. Our main character is Ellie, and her parents are divorced but they’re friends, like my own parents. There are no hints or suggestions that they’ll get back together, and Ellie lives a happy life with her mom, talking to her dad on the phone when he’s traveling and seeing him in person when he’s not.
Ellie’s mom is a drama teacher, and this causes her to be constantly arguing with Ellie’s grandfather, who is a scientist. At the beginning of the book, we’re told he’s just discovered the “cure” for aging, which makes him look like a thirteen-year-old. Aside from being a very original premise, I think it’s an awesome introduction to “harder” sci-fi or speculative books, especially for people like me, whose reading tastes are completely realistic.
Because Ellie’s grandpa now looks like a teenager, he starts living with her and her mom, going to school, and living like an actual teen -in his own way. They both form an uncommon bond, but one I like reading about: there’s just something about grandparent-grandchild relationships that warms my heart. Both characters start developing unlikely friendships with other people, like Raj, the goth kid.
The science component and the conversation about family relationships and what it means to age makes this, in my opinion, a great book to transition from middle grade to young adult. What are your general views toward middle grade? Let me know in the comments below.
Love, Miss Camila