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The Goldfish Boy

Review

The Goldfish Boy

The people of chestnut close are devastated when Teddy, the grandson of Mr. Charles, goes missing. The police have no one to turn to except 12-year-old Matthew Corbin. However, there's a problem...Matthew almost never leaves his house and spends most of his days staring out of windows because he has obsessive compulsive disorder. His OCD is about germs and illnesses, which makes him feel that the outside world is just too dangerous. But if he's ever going to get better --- and if little Teddy is ever to be found --- then Matthew's going to have to do the hardest thing he's ever done...face his fears.

Going into THE GOLDFISH BOY my number one concern was how Lisa Thompson was going to portray OCD. I feel that accuracy in portraying mental health is absolutely paramount.  However, I can tell you as someone who knows people intimately that struggle with OCD and anxiety about germs and illness, Thompson nailed it. She takes you into the mind of someone who suffers this very real and VERY misunderstood condition in a really accessible way. She shows you how miserable and debilitating it is, how these fears can multiply and worsen and how others react to people with this disorder.

"THE GOLDFISH BOY had all the key components of a good mystery: unpredictability, proper pacing and good clue placement. I also liked how Lisa Thompson had Matthew use his OCD in productive way by helping him solve the crime."

While OCD was the most prominent feature of the novel, the mystery element was still very prevalent. The way Thompson seamlessly wove mental health and mystery together was masterful. The plot points were so well blanced, in fact, that they created a teeter-totter effect so that when one was lagging, the other picked up the pace. THE GOLDFISH BOY had all the key components of a good mystery: unpredictability, proper pacing and good clue placement. I also liked how Lisa Thompson had Matthew use his OCD in productive way by helping him solve the crime. The conclusion was unexpected and surprisingly unique, making THE GOLDFISH BOY a solid and interesting mystery.

I thought it was really fun and different to get to know the characters through Matthew's notes on their day to day lives. Matthew was a realistic and relatable character. But he had some rather odd quirks. Although Matthew's parents loved him, they were selfish, insensitive and unfeeling. And as far as Matthew's friends go, I thought Melody was okay, very quirky and kind of weird. I didn't mind Jake and thought the reasons behind his being a bully were realistic (albeit not justified). Matthew's neighbors Mrs. Sullivan and Mr.Jenkins were terrible bullies. Teddy was sweet, but his sister Casey is a creepy demon child (I have shivers thinking about her). But I thought all the characters served a function in the story. 

The ending was happy, hopeful and realistic which I really liked. There were only about three things I didn't like in THE GOLDFISH BOY. The first being a conversation between Matthew and his parents regarding his therapy. During this conversation Mrs. Corbin said some very cruel things to her son and Mr. Corbin was mean as well. The second issue I had with this book was a scene in which Matthew is thinking back on his mental health decline. In this memory Matthew has just finished playing baseball at the park with his extended family. He then sits down on a park bench with his mother when his aunt comes upon them with a bowl of chips. Before he takes some, he goes to the bathroom to wash his hands. My problem with this is that washing your hands before eating is basic hygiene! I resent the way Thompson used common sense as an OCD indicator. My final qualm is a scene at the end of book when Matthew is telling his therapist about a time he had been ill. Descriptive sickness scenes are a pet peeve of mine due to the fact that I'm a very visual and empathetic reader.   

All in all THE GOLDFISH BOY is an enjoyable middle grade novel that I'd recommend to people of all ages.

Reviewed by Rachel A., Teen Board Member on March 24, 2017

The Goldfish Boy
by Lisa Thompson