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5 / 30 books. 17% done!

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22 / 165 books. 13% done!
Wednesday, October 27, 2021

Body-Positive MG Novel Empathy-Inducing and Empowering

(Image from Barnes & Noble)

Ellie Montgomery-Hofstein is used to people gawking at her—and not in a good way.  She's always been bigger than her peers, which has made her the recipient of relentless bullying.  Even her mother is constantly haranguing her for being fat.  Now that Ellie's best friend has moved away, she's facing sixth grade alone, making her even more of a target than usual.  The only place she finds peace is in her backyard swimming pool where she feels weightless and free.

When bubbly Catalina Rodriguez moves in next to Ellie and welcomes her into her boisterous Mexican-American family, Ellie discovers another safe place.  With the help of her new friend and a caring therapist, she starts learning to stand up for herself.  Will these new skills help her face the biggest bully in her life?  Can Ellie help her mother understand that Ellie deserves to be loved just as she is?  Can Ellie finally free herself from the Fat Girl Rules and embrace her big, beautiful self? 

Starfish—a debut novel by Lisa Fipps—is a quick read, but one that sticks with you.  Written in free verse, it's raw and honest.  Anyone who's struggled with their weight, or been bullied for any reason, will empathize with Ellie's pain.  Hopefully, those who bully will also be moved by her story.  Starfish really is impactful as it teaches lessons about the impact that words have, for both good and ill, on other people; how bullying, whether done by children or adults, affects people; the importance of kindness and acceptance; and the empowering magic of learning to stand up for one's self.  This is an important, touching read that I hope kids will take to heart.

(Readalikes:  Reminds me of Wonder by R.J. Palacio)


If this were a movie, it would be rated:

for difficult subject matter (body shaming, bullying, and verbal and emotional abuse)

To the FTC, with love:  Another library fine find

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